Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Movie with Abe: Honest Thief

Honest Thief
Directed by Mark Williams
Released October 16, 2020 (Theaters)

There are actors who are cast in a number of similar roles and, at a point, audiences come to expect that they will see them that way. Part of that has to do with being typecast and offered certain parts, but actors do feed into the idea by delivering a consistent and, to a degree, predictable portrayal. Liam Neeson is one such performer, who has become a dependable action star since anchoring the first “Taken” film in 2009. The words “Liam Neeson thriller” are a likely draw for a particular audience, and they know exactly what’s in store based on that description.

Tom (Liam Neeson) moves to Boston and meets Annie (Kate Walsh), who works at the storage facility where he rents a unit. After falling for her, Tom decides that he must confess that he is the In-and-Out Bandit, a bank robber who has never been caught, and turn himself in to the FBI in exchange for a reduced sentence. Unfortunately for him, the agents who arrive, Nivens (Jai Courtney) and Hall (Anthony Ramos), decide to steal the money and try to silence him. Determined to protect Annie and make the agents pay for their betrayal, Tom sets out to exact revenge while a good-natured agent, Meyers (Jeffrey Donovan), continues investigating the case.

It’s obvious why Neeson was chosen for this part, and Tom seems to possess the same kind of training that previous characters of Neeson’s have, even if that’s not part of his backstory. Tom’s hand-to-hand combat skills can be explained by his military background, but his assertion that he hasn’t spent any of the millions he stole doesn’t track with his ability to easily afford getaway vehicles and countless technical materials. The film’s plot holes aren’t overly problematic because this is actually a relatively simplistic film that posits that Tom is not a bad guy and just wants to take responsibility for his actions for the sake of love.

This film smartly doesn’t try to make itself much grander than what it wants to be, opting not for excessive stunts or conspiracy theories and instead spotlighting people who are motivated by clear desires. Nivens and Hall are eager to get rich regardless of who gets hurts – even if there is disagreement between the two about how far they’ll go – while Meyers is a straight arrow without much enthusiasm. Thanks to Walsh, Annie is fiery and memorable, eager to be relevant to the story, and Neeson is doing exactly what he’s paid to do, play a version of his cinematic persona who feels real enough since we’ve met him so many times before. This film is throwaway entertainment, but still manages to be watchable and relatively enthralling.


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