‘Honest Thief’: Liam Neeson Looks to Leave Behind a Criminal Past in Bland Thriller
Almost 12 years after he took no prisoners in the action-thriller “Taken,” Liam Neeson looks to retire in the more subdued crime thriller “Honest Thief.” Neeson plays Tom Carter, a former Marine turned bank robber who decides to live behind a life of thievery after falling in love. However, just giving up robbing banks isn’t enough for Tom, as he feels he needs to turn himself into law enforcement in order to start a new life with his girlfriend, Annie (Kate Walsh), even if that means he has to do time. Unfortunately, he doesn’t count on the feds he meets with being more unscrupulous than he ever could be.
When we first meet Tom, he is at a rental storage facility renting a unit for his loot. He immediately falls in love with cheery Annie, a recently divorced woman who manages the facility while finishing a graduate degree in psychology. One year later, he invites her to move into a new home in a Boston suburb he’s planning to purchase. His interest in real estate seems rather odd, considering he’s looking at a very different living situation if he succeeds in his plan to peacefully turn himself in to the FBI. He calls the bureau and speaks to Agent Baker (Robert Patrick), outing himself out as the infamous In-and-Out Bandit, stating that he can give him all the money he stole, nine million dollars in eight years –– yes, he still has it –– if they will cut a deal with him, locking him up at Boston prison with full visitation rights. Understandably, Baker, who has dealt with numerous false confessions, is not easily convinced, so he sends over a pair of young agents, Nivens (Jai Courtney) and Hall (Anthony Ramos) to interview him.
Tom, as it turns out, only robbed the first bank to get revenge on the CEO who stole his late father’s pension. After the first one, it just got easier, and he employed the skills he acquired as a career Marine to blow up safes. Tom may rob from the rich, but he’s not exactly Robin Hood, as he has hoarded all the money and left it untouched. It was more about feeling alive for him, and he did it until Annie came along and filled that void. Director Mark Williams and his co-writer Steve Allrich seem to be trying to make a point about capitalism, corporate greed, and how society has failed veterans, but none of this is adequately explored. Instead, the focus shifts to Nivens, a corrupt agent, who too easily convinces his partner, family man Hall, to steal Tom’s money.
It doesn’t take long for Nivens to expose his true self to Tom, killing an innocent man in front of him and leaving him to take the blame. What transpires after all this is pretty predictable, as Tom uses his “special skills” (sound familiar?) to outsmart the baddies. Another agent, Baker’s partner Meyes (Jeffrey Donovan), soon gets involved, and we know he’s decent from the beginning when we see him taking care of his adorable dog, a true sign of a good guy.
Overall, “Honest Thief” is a paint-by-the-numbers thriller, and while Neeson could never be unlikable, he’s rather stiff here, going through the motions. Walsh attempts to breathe some fresh air into the lifeless script, but her character is tragically underwritten.
“Honest Thief” opens Oct. 16 in select cities.