Liam Neeson relies on the same old gimmicks in this forgettable action flick.
You might say “Honest Thief” is another “Taken”-type movie, because of how Liam Neeson has to make phone calls and fight bad guys until the cows come home. And you might also say it’s more of the same. The actor delivers the goods with his commitment to the main character and his personality, but the movie doesn’t live up to its full potential. In fact, it seems too easy and lazy to keep you going.
I caught a glimpse of this a couple of days ago, and I can barely remember the whole thing. I know you need a good action movie, since “Black Widow,” “No Time to Die,” “Dune,” and “Wonder Woman 1984” all had to be pushed back, but you also deserve something risk-taking and original. “Honest Thief” misses one opportunity after another, and relies on your average, typical action movie cliches just to make a profit.
Neeson stars as a former Marine, demolitions expert, and professional bank robber named Tom Carter, who can get in an out of banks without anyone recognizing his face. That’s why he’s known as the “In-and-Out Bandit,” a name which he loathes. He decides to redeem himself when he begins dating a storage unit employee named Annie (Kate Walsh). To do that, he turns himself into the FBI, and agrees to return all the stolen money on the condition that he receives a reduced sentence and allowed visitation.
The FBI isn’t convinced he is the In-and-Out Bandit, until two agents-the greedy John Nivens (Jai Courtney) and the reluctant Ramon Hall (Anthony Ramos)-find and decide to keep the money. Actually, not all the money there, because he took a fraction of it as a bargaining chip. So, Nivens murders their chief (Robert Patrick) and plans to pin it on Tom, forcing both him and Annie to escape.
That’s when she learns the truth about his work, and he explains that he only robbed banks to fill the void in his sad life. It’s obligatory that she finds out the hard way, and it’s just too simple the way it’s handled. And while Neeson gives a good performance, he has to rely on his routine action skills to right this wrong. And he must also convince a good agent-the recently divorced Tom Meyers (Jeffrey Donovan)-that he is the good guy, and the agents are dirty. Well, mostly Nivens since Hall is the less evil one.
The story of how the bank robbers has successfully pulled off the robberies isn’t completely accurate on how his tricks are possible. He claims to fix the holes in the walls he blows up so he leaves no trace, but what if somebody heard him? What about the night security guards? Are they even around at night? I’m not sure.
A bank robber can redeem himself, and “Honest Thief” has a good idea. It just has to be wasted on a formulaic script with the same characters dealing with the same situations. The villains are lackluster, the girlfriend is misused, and the action is mostly predictable. If it was about a bank robber turning himself in and being framed by dirty agents, then it should have given us the illusions of what would happen. Co-writer/director Mark Williams seems to make this too easy, and ends the film without another clarification of whether or not the hero would be off the hook. I’m pretty sure he has to serve jail time, but it never delivers.