Updated: Sep 22, 2021
Liam Neeson has certainly had a notable career. From playing a Jedi Master to a Lego with a split personality, the Irish actor has had many noteworthy roles over the years and tends to stand out no matter what part he plays. One genre that Neeson continues to make a name for himself in is that of action movies. Neeson is no stranger to blockbusters but his presence does not give off the vibe of that of an action star. However, the actor has managed to make the leap into the genre as the likes of the Taken trilogy have proven to be successful. Now Neeson is at it again with a new action thriller called Honest Thief. Directed by Mark Williams, Honest Thief takes a different turn for Neeson’s action tenure as the actor plays a former criminal. Seeing the trailer this new movie looked to be just another action flick starring Liam Neeson, and after seeing this crime thriller for myself I can that Honest Thief is indeed just that-though that was not that it was a bad thing.
Liam Neeson plays Tom Carter: a skilled thief who decides to leave his life of crime after meeting a woman named Annie (Kate Walsh). However, after trying to turn himself in, Tom gets framed for murder after FBI agents Nivens and Hall (Jai Courtney and Anthony Ramos) decide to steal Tom’s stolen fortune which leads to Tom to do whatever it takes to clear his name. The story of Honest Thief is a simplistic one and this was a benefit, as well as a detriment, to the movie. The story featured a straightforward narrative which left little to no surprises. While the storytelling was basic it did have a sense of excitement to it. After a decent setup, the plot throws you right into the thick of things and this narrative was certainly thrilling to say the least. Furthermore, while the story featured no earth-shattering plot twist, the tension that surrounded this thriller was effective enough to create a matter of uncertainty; and this direction showed that a movie such as this one did not need change the game to be effective.
When it came to the cast, this movie featured a keen ensemble. Despite playing to his base, Nesson’s performance of the redeemed criminal was solid to say the least. Then again Neeson’s portrayal had a matter of flexibility by giving Tom a dry sense of humor. Helping with Neeson’s performance was Kate Walsh as Annie. There was a wit to Annie that made her easily likable, and Kate Walsh’s performance was not only solid but it also had a natural chemistry with Neeson’s Tom. When it came to the antagonists both Nivens and Hall were tolerable. While Nivens’ motivation was as basic as one could get, the performance from Jai Courtney helped the character by grounding this typical villain. Balancing things for the villains was Hall and his conflict of committing the crime. This dilemma not only helped to establish Hall’s character but the progression of the FBI agents’ descent into corruption. When it came to supporting characters, Jeffery Donovan was impressive as agent Tom Meyers. Meyers was different from the typical authority figure and this was thanks Donovan’s sense of nuance and the chemistry he had with the dog named Tazy. This, along with a supporting role from Robert Patrick, gave this cast a personal touch that was indeed refreshing for a film such as this one.
Despite being and action movie, Honest Thief featured little to no action. However, in this case, less was more as the action was effective in its delivery thanks to its subtle approach. Another direction that impressive was the film’s use of location. Rather than being a globe-trotting adventure the movie takes place in Boston, Massachusetts (although the movie was filmed in Worchester). While a movie using limited locations is nothing new, the use of Worchester was done remarkably well as each area (even when used multiple times) felt like appropriate set pieces for the movie. When it came to the music, the score by Mark Isham had a limited presence but it did feature fitting compositions for this action thriller.
One could say that if you have seen one Liam Neeson action film then you have seen them all, and Honest Thief would be a clear example of that statement. The movie was fairly standard in its many of its aspects which made it difficult for the movie to leave an impression. However, one could also say that there was more to this action thriller than meets the eye. Despite having generic elements, the movie also featured a thrilling tone, good performances and a unique take on action. In the case of this Film Adventurer, I can say Honest Thief is indeed a typical action movie, but one that was a bit refreshing in Liam Neeson’s repertoire of action flicks.