Thursday, October 15, 2020

Liam Neeson plays a good-guy thief


   Predictable, preposterous, and typically dour, Honest Thief features Liam Neeson as a bank robber whose efforts at reform are thwarted by duplicitous FBI agents.
    These days, Neeson's presence often signals what's in store, and Honest Thief offers little by way of exception to the rule that casts Neeson as the individual who fights his own battles, sometimes to rescue a snatched loved one or, in this case, to save himself from evil FBI agents.
    Neeson plays Tom, a successful bank robber who, after eight years and 12 successful jobs, begins to crave normalcy. Tom's transformation begins when he meets this edition's stereotypical good woman. Annie (Kate Walsh) operates the storage facility in which Tom stashes his loot, some $9 million. 
    Tom, you see, is an unusual thief. He doesn't spend the money he steals. Moreover, he offers to give it all back in return for a light sentence, a couple of years in a Boston minimum security prison that’s close enough for Annie to visit.
    Of course, surrender isn't easy. A couple of devious FBI agents (Jai Courtney and Anthony Ramos) learn that Tom really is the so-called "In and Out Bandit" and decide to keep the money he has stolen.
  Courtney portrays Agent Nivens, the mastermind of the scheme to steal Tom's stash. As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that Nivens will do anything to keep the money. He's more of an amoral nut job than his partner in crime. Married with a family, Ramos' Agent Hall suffers pangs of conscience.
    Director Mark Williams leaves few genre bases untouched. Tom not only knows how to crack safes; he also knows something about bombs, knowledge he picked up as a Marine and which allows Tom to fulfill another genre requirement, setting off at least one major explosion.
    "Wow," says Annie as she watches Tom blow a house to smithereens.
    You'd think the writers could have come up with a line that at least employed a word with two syllables. 
   Even Neeson can't sell some of the dialogue, stuff about how the robberies weren't about the money but served as a means to make Tom feel alive. 
   Tom ultimately has to settle matters his way. How else? "I'm coming for you,'' he tells agent Nivens, a line that sounds as if it has been said a thousand times before.
    The actors give it their best and, at 98 minutes, Honest Thief doesn't overstay its welcome but action, violence and the always serious Neeson can't rescue this unremarkable and sometimes ludicrously plotted thriller.

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