Released: 22nd October
Seen: 11th November
Can we, as a society, just admit that Liam Neeson action films have become repetitive and stale? Is that a thing that we can collectively do? Hell, let’s be honest, they were getting stale roughly around the third time he played a character who had a member of his family taken. It’s now to the point where you could write a Liam Neeson action film using a madlib form, they all have the same basic plot and only change the minor superficial details. It’s always the same and every time it gets a little bit less interesting and Honest Thief is just another one for the pile.
Honest Thief, AKA Liam Neeson Action Movie #456, Liam Neeson plays Tom who is currently a good man but has a suspicious past as a marine and bank robber which provides him with a very specific set of skills. He is dating a woman named Annie (Kate Walsh) who is here to both push Tom to admitting his past misdeeds and to be the damsel in distress when the time comes for Tom to get very serious and prepare for his spree of violence against the real bad guys of the movie. What spurs this spree of violence? Well, Tom tries to turn himself in for all that bank robbing he did and two FBI agents (Jai Courtney & Anthony Ramos) see the large amount of money and instantly decide to be bad guys and try to kill Tom which gets him to go after them. What follows is basically what you expect.
Everything about Honest Thief has been done before and was done better in other Liam Neeson action movies. Hell, this one barely even bothers building up the characters or taking the time to let moments breathe, this is a movie that just presents the bullet points and nothing more. It’s edited down to the bone, only the bare basics remain here in order to competently get the story from start to finish as fast as possible with the minimum of effort and every beat of the story just feels like I’ve seen it before.
This isn’t saying Honest Thief is necessarily bad, there’s a reason Liam Neeson has been typecast in this kind of film and it’s that he’s very good at convincing the audience that he is a mild mannered everyman until he reveals that he was a secret badass the entire time. Kate Walsh is possibly the freshest part of the movie since she’s the one character that has a personality that actually makes you like her, she’s funny and gets all the good lines. There’s also the dog, Tazzie, who is absolutely precious and I hope they got many many treats for being the bestest dog in the movie… and that is where the praise really has to end because these are the only parts of the film that don’t make me long to just go watch Taken again.
If Honest Thief isn’t repetitive, it’s wasting potential. This film has Robert Patrick, the freaking T1000, and it wastes him completely. Jai Courtney is also wasted, could’ve been replaced by literally any actor with a broad chest and square jaw and gotten the same performance. I can’t believe how much potential the film itself wastes in terms of action scenes, there’s a few shootouts and some car chases, one big explosion and that’s all folks. In a film where the main character is a former bank robber, he’s never asked to break into anything remotely difficult. For an explosion expert he does exactly one big explosion (and one that leaves the audience going “Wait, how the hell did you set that up with no one noticing”) and that’s it. There’s no real tension built and the only character we are really able to care about (that’d be the Kate Walsh character) only really has about 5-10 minutes of being in potential peril and then she’s fine.
Not only have I seen films like Honest Thief before, but Liam Neeson basically revived his career on them and he did them better and with more flair before. This is a movie that you might watch if it comes on TV and you can’t be bothered to change the channel, it’s not going to be well remembered for anything. There’s no great fights, no cool one liners, no stellar performances. It’s perfunctory at best, pathetic at worst. Honestly, I feel like I had an hour and a half of my day stolen and I would like it back.