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Honest Thief

Peter Malone MSC  |  16 October 2020

Honest Thief, US, 2020. Starring Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai  Courtney, Jeffrey Donovan, Anthony Ramos, Robert Patrick. Directed by Mark Williams. 99 minutes. Rated M (Violence and coarse language).

An agreeable title. How does a thief become honest? The answer is that, when dealing with the FBI, it is not so easy.

This is a film for 2020 audiences, especially older audiences looking for some kind of easy entertainment in difficult times. So, a thriller which is not too violent (although there are some shootouts and car chases). A thriller which actually has romance built in – romance certainly being a motivation for a thief to be honest.

And, we have Liam Neeson. Neeson has played many serious roles (we remember Schindler’s List, Kinsey, Silence). And for more than 10 years he has built up a catalogue of action shows. With his height, his speaking voice, his strong presence, he brings something of gravitas to any character he plays. And, this is especially the case here, with Tom – a former Marine, demolitions expert, family crisis, and a series of bank robberies. But, especially when he encounters divorcee, Annie (Kate Walsh very sympathetic), it is time for honesty.

The trouble is that when he phones the FBI, they have heard all kinds of confessions before, encountered all kinds of hoaxes. They are not particularly enthusiastic. This is the case with the senior agents, played by Robert Patrick and Jeffrey Donovan. They hand on the mission to the younger agents, played by Jai Courtney and Anthony Ramos. They meet with Tom, they go off to recover some of the money. All could go well in furthering their careers.

But, of course, it doesn’t.

In finding some of the money, quite easily, there is a huge temptation to steal it – dishonest thieves. Unfortunately, the brains behind the stealing, Nivens, Jai Courtney, is strong on impulse rather than planning which has dire consequences. But it brings back Tom into serious action, handy with the gun, skilled in making bombs, expert driver.

So, this is where the action comes in – and some emotions because of Nivens' attack on Annie (who managed the storage where the money has been kept and has possession of security footage).

The filmmakers keep a fairly good balance between the action and the romance (and, possibly, only one brief instant of swearing, which is a surprise). The comments on the film from your average audience have been  favourable. They enjoyed it. However, the fans of Liam Neeson’s earlier thrillers are begging him to insert much more action – and one of them suggests earnestly that he cut out much of the romance.

Honest Thief was never intended to be a great cinema experience – but, most older audiences will find interest and entertainment.

Rialto
Released 15 October 

Peter Malone MSC is an associate of Jesuit Media.

 

 

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