“I’ve robbed twelve banks in seven states. I have a little over nine million dollars in cash. And no one knows who I am.”
Honest Thief features efficient filmmaking, engaging storylines, and a small but effective core cast. It’s a solid action thriller with important dramatic and romantic elements at a deliberate pace.
Set in Boston Massachusetts, an experienced professional thief trying to do the right thing has his plans upended amid police corruption. Liam Neeson portrays Tom Carter (a.k.a. the “In-and-Out Bandit”) who meets Annie Sumpter (Kate Walsh), a storage unit manager with aspirations of a psychology career.
Senior Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officers Tom Meyers (Jeffrey Donovan) and Sam Baker (Robert Patrick) cross paths with Tom who presents them with a unique request that, unfortunately, gets passed on to FBI officers John Nivens (Jai Courtney) and his partner Ramon Hall (Anthony Ramos).
Nivens and Hall take actions that represent the most unpredictable elements of the film. They take audiences through an entire case of corruption without getting too detailed. This film’s simplicity is a welcome approach while the scenarios, stunts, and surprises entertain.
Neeson continues to amaze in this action role and handles the drama/romance well. It’s great to see Walsh in a large role again as she identifies closest to the audience. Donovan is delightful as a unique and very capable officer. He dutifully conducts his work while caring for his family dog Tazzie.
In the dialogue, audiences hear the characters’ names at a high frequency, not just his and her. Filmmakers value their story that incorporates sets multiple times instead of the standard dual purpose in the action genre – show it once in an establishing shot then blow it up later.
Director Mark Williams uses long, purposeful camera movements as the cast impresses with long dialogue scenes instead of quick cuts catching clichéd quips. Williams also wrote the screenplay with Steve Allrich, which works well except for some lacking character development and a noticeable hiccup in character development occurs with John Nivens. His greedy motives do not seem to match his current lifestyle, especially his house.
Trust is a vital element as the audience sees a notable spectrum ranging from characters getting instant credibility when it’s known they were a Marine to a lesson on how not to engage strangers for the first time. The cast’s work is very commendable. The realism they portray in the roles emulates a documentary-type experience that’s very involving.
This memorable, one hour and 39-minute film entertains while taking its time. It’s clear cut and entertaining without the schlock, manipulation, and needlessly gratuitous violence. Ultimately love heals and the payoffs/resolutions are satisfying.
Recommended with a few reservations (**1/2 out of four stars) for strong violence, crude references, and brief strong language. Also showing in IMAX theaters. It’s no surprise that Honest Thief made it to theaters amid the current COVID-19 pandemic since this film is a production of Open Road Film, which was originated by the two largest U.S. theatrical exhibitors, AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment Group.