CERT: 15 / PLATFORMS: AMAZON PRIME, SELECT CINEMAS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
As we approach 15 years since Pierre Morel’s unexpected hit Taken (we know, right?) marked an action star career transformation for Liam Neeson, the formula is still going remarkably strong, as are the now 68 year old actor’s knees even more remarkably (this writer struggles with brief uphill jogs)! And the latest entry into the Neeson season action genre is director Mark Williams’ Honest Thief, which received a slight cinema run last year during that brief bright spot of a re-opening and now is getting a bigger release on Amazon Prime (as well as a select few cinemas again).
The film sees Neeson play Tom Dolan, a man who has found love in Annie (Kate Walsh) but hides a secret, he is the mysterious master thief (dubbed “The In-and-Out Bandit” much to his chagrin) that has successfully eluded the cops, and stolen a large combined sum of money from numerous banks. Now, older and wiser, he is ready to turn himself in and give all the money back, hoping to secure a fair deal and prison sentence with authorities that will mean he can have a life with Annie. But some corrupt FBI agents might have other plans, urging the former criminal into desperate action to fight for love, justice and life.
The concept is not without its shakier logical elements that is for sure, and there is no doubt about it that some of these beats sound rather familiar (because they are) but, like The Commuter and Non-Stop before it, Honest Thief has a throwback charm and knows precisely what it needs to do as a movie. As a result, it is another much welcome entry into Neeson’s action CV. Landing somewhere on the scale (or the Starburst Badass-Neeson-O-Meter) between Unknown and Run All Night.
Needless to say, clearly Liam Neeson can always be relied upon to lead these types of pictures and we have yet to tire of seeing him do so, and all this time on he remains on sterling form, this time as the criminal with a heart and moral code stronger than a bank vault. Walsh also delivers a strong supporting performance as the likeable Kate, while Jai Courtney does the villainous duties as unscrupulous a-hole agent John Nivens. There are also some surprising welcome familiar faces that pop up like Robert Patrick and Anthony Ramos and make a mark on the plot.
Williams keeps the pace going at a constant lick, and the film drives forward engagingly for its whole 99 minutes, delivering precisely the kind of fun that was promised on the bullet hole riddled tin. Honest Thief is precisely the kind of film that passes an evening film night really nicely and ought to please the fans of Neeson’s quick hands leading man thrills, with car chases, corrupt pillocks getting their deserved comeuppance and decency winning the day. You even get a window fall for good measure. What more do you want people?
If you are sitting down to watch Honest Thief, you get precisely what you want here and there’s a real joy to be had in that, especially nowadays. Great fun.