Honest Thief has insincere characters, a mundane plot, and is a fairly bland thriller by any standard.
You have to give Liam Neeson some credit for finding a career resurgence in action films. Very few can have this type of longevity. It may be even rarer to have the latter half of your career starring in action films. He is an exceptional actor who has a filmography that includes the crown jewel, playing the lead in Schindler’s List. Yet, he seems to be stuck in a niche of his own doing. He has created the Neeson action picture. A genre completely his own. Unfortunately, most are hit or miss. His latest, Honest Thief, is a fairly bland thriller by any standard.
Neeson plays the In-and-Out-Bandit (the film, amazingly, does not have a single In-and-Out product placement in it), a notorious bank robber who the FBI has not been able to catch. He is meticulous, professional, and kept his identity secret for years. Then, of course, something happens to him that is old as time. He falls for a perky storage unit attendant named Annie (Kate Walsh). He wants to give it all up for love (doing this for a woman not even in her 20’s may qualify for a medal in today’s film standards). That includes some jail time and giving up, that’s right, the nine-million dollars he has saved from all his scores. He attempts to strike a deal with a couple of FBI agents (Jeffrey Donovan, Robert Patrick) so he could live an honest life with his new lady love. Of course, things go wrong. He is accused of murder and attempts to clear his name.
Honest Thief is heavy on themes of criminals with a heart of gold and how power can cause corruption among the country’s most powerful law enforcement agencies. While relevant to many of today’s front-page issues, the film is filled with over-the-top, insincere character types. Jai Courtney seems to be the go-to-guy when it comes to these types of villains. He plays another one here, who doesn’t have a shred of common sense to pull off any type of corrupt move and get away with it. The plot is fairly mundane and has your typical plot holes that defy simple logic. To make matters worse, Walsh’s Annie, like most underwritten female characters, turns into a complete idiot. The only thing worse than her choice in men is how she puts herself in dangerous situations. She becomes a caricature of female roles that need to change.
Honest Thief is fairly standard thriller fare that is a watered-down version of some of Neeson’s best action films. There is nothing new or fresh brought to the table by writer/director Mark Williams (A Family Man). This notch in the Neeson bedpost is strictly for diehard fans of the actor and the genre. That’s too bad. He needs to get his career stuck out of neutral.