Honest Thief is a 2020 action-thriller film starring Liam Neeson. The film was directed by Mark Williams and written by Steve Allrich and Mark Williams. Besides Neeson, this film also stars Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Jeffery Donovan, Anthony Ramos, and Robert Patrick. This film tells the story of a former accomplished thief, who tries to change a new page by turning himself into the FBI. That’s when things took an unexpected turn and he was framed by an FBI agent himself.
Honestly Thief hits theaters in the United States on October 16, 2020. The film has garnered mixed reviews, with critics noting that the new film takes on certain action film cliches. Other than that, the film doesn’t have much to say about it. With Liam Neeson repeating the badass one old soldier, the film feels a little too familiar despite trying a few new things.
This film follows Tom Dolan, an accomplished veteran thief who has been a stealing profession for years. Tom has been stealing large sums of money from a bank in Boston for some time. He even earned a nickname for himself, “The In-And-Out Bandit”, for his sneaky theft maneuvered and executed. After meeting and falling in love with Annie Wilkins, a psychology graduate, and storage unit manager, Tom decides to start anew. He’s trying to turn a new leaf and turn himself in to the FBI. He attempted to get a short sentence in exchange for giving up and starting over with Annie afterward. He approaches FBI agent Sam Baker, who doesn’t believe him. He had received too many false confessions to notice. Even so, he still sent two subordinates John Nivens (Jai Courtney) and Ramon Hall (Anthony Ramos) to interview Tom.
The two FBI agents go and meet Tom, who directs them to the stolen money. That’s when the Nivens come up with an evil plan and convince Hall to steal the money and keep it for themselves. A conflict ensues and two FBI agents detain Tom at gunpoint to steal his money. The story changed quickly when Agent Baker suddenly arrived on the scene. Nivens shoots Baker, killing him, while Tom flees with Annie.
Tom confessed everything to Annie and told her to run away. However, Annie immediately returned to her storage unit to retrieve security camera footage. Before he can escape with evidence against Nivens and Hall, they appear and knock him out. That’s when Hall misled Nivens into thinking Annie was dead and secretly took the evidence. Tom finally finds Annie and takes her to the hospital. Being framed for Baker’s murder, Tom escapes the police and fights Sean Meyers, telling him what happened. Meanwhile, Nivens arrives at the hospital to kill Annie. He failed to do so after finding him under police protection.
After fleeing a police chase, Tom confronts Hall at his home. Trapping her, Tom tries to convince Hall to hand over security camera footage that will reveal the location of the money storage and incriminate him and Nivens. Hall turned the tape over. Tom goes to Annie and takes her out of the hospital. He then drops her off at a safe location and heads to where Nivens is. Tom destroys the house, but Nivens flees to a safe house to meet Hall. Tom also arrives at the scene and confronts the two of them. There, Nivens learns that Hall has submitted recorded evidence, which infuriates him. In anger, Nivens manages to kill Hall and injure Tom. Nivens escapes the scene but Tom outranks him by anticipating his next move. With his talent for making bombs, Tom plants a fake bomb in Nivens’ car. Nivens was forced to call the bomb squad and defuse the bomb.
But soon, the police reveal the stolen money, which results in Nivens’ arrest. Agent Meyers gets a voice recorder revealing a pre-shootout conversation between Nivens and Hall. The voice recording proves Tom’s innocence. The film ends with Tom training himself and Meyers giving his words to reduce his sentence.
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Familiar Stories with Refreshing Distinctions
Nowadays, Neeson has gone through his routine of starring in Taken-like films which rarely live up to the original. The pattern appears to be one in which Neeson stars in a rather competent co-act, followed by an indirect. Honest Thief seems to lie between the two ends. It’s a surprising new take on the genre but soon turns into the same cliché and trope. The first 30 minutes seems promising, investing in its character and development. Soon, however, the film takes a step and falls into the same old trappings of the average action film. Aside from the looks worthy of lead stars Liam Neeson and Kate Walsh, the film doesn’t have much of a redeeming quality.
There are lots of details that bear an uncanny resemblance to all of Liam’s past action-like pieces. Liam plays a tough retired man, with a certain set of skills. The plot involves kidnapping or harassing someone close to the character Liam. Liam pulls off an act of revenge, jam-packed with fast action sequences. The film, like many of its spiritual predecessors, ticks all of these boxes. However, what this does differently is deviate from redundancy at the same plot point. That and the characters are not one-dimensional, only there to serve the plot.
Good Appearance Lifts The Film
What starts out as a different story about an accomplished thief who falls in love with a woman and wants to turn a new leaf, turns into the gritty action film that Liam is familiar with. Tom and Annie’s love story is believable and funny. And while the expected sequence of actions and unexpected twists is good, the writing and execution feels subpar. Speaking of redeeming film quality, Liam is as always committed to his character. He has a knack for making his characters believe, even in poorly written and poorly executed films. He gave a credible and great performance as a central character. One could argue that a large part of what makes this film not bad is Liam’s ability to deliver strong, trustworthy performances.
Liam’s passion for films, Annie – who was portrayed in an extraordinary way by Kate Walsh – is also more than just a retarded character. It’s refreshing because it’s a common aspect of so many action thriller films like this one. Apart from being Tom’s love interest, Annie is also smart and resourceful. Kate Walsh plays her character with commitment and trust. The dynamic of love between Tom and Annie is one of the saving grace of the film.
A passable watch with great potential
The film also provides a supporting cast, a few lines about things that are not relevant to the plot. In this respect, the film distinguishes itself from many similar contemporary action vehicles. FBI agents Baker and Meyers talk about divorce and dogs, and Tom hilariously quips about his nicknames. The main antagonist of the film, Nivens, seems somewhat one-sided with nothing more than greed. Jai Courtney does her best with whatever she gives her the chance to work. Unfortunately, the second half of the film falters and takes away all the character development and humor. After the first half, the film seems to have taken the traditional route of car chasing, fistfights and gunfights.
Despite the promising start, great performance by Liam Neeson, fresh genres, and decent action sequences, the film is a disappointment. The reason is the film’s failure to build and develop the things it did right in the first half. The film has a lot of potential but the script fails to give the film the justice it deserves. All in all, Honest Thief is a refreshing, decent film that’s pretty overlooked.
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