Honest Thief (2 stars)

Honest Thief

Liam Neeson returns to geriaction in this so-so effort from Ozark's Mark Williams

For a while it seemed as if the geriaction genre's leading light Liam Neeson was returning to the ranks of respected actors, with films like Ordinary Love and Widows on his recent CV. Nevertheless, there will be some happy to see him back in the saddle as a bone-weary avenger, albeit one of a more genial disposition this time round.

The co-creator of excellent TV crime drama Ozark, Mark Williams, is behind this latest actioner, collaborating on the screenplay with Steve Allrich. With Williams on board it feels promising, and he's certainly assembled a decent supporting cast. Neeson plays Tom, a successful bank robber embarrassingly dubbed the 'in-and-out bandit', who has amassed an inexplicably untouched fortune. He was never really in it for the money, as he explains in a deeply unconvincing speech, and now he's found love – with Kate Walsh's likeable trainee therapist Annie, who seems a lot younger than him – he wants out.

When Tom phones in his confession to the FBI hoping to secure a plea deal, he's initially disbelieved, before the dastardly Agent Nivens (Jai Courtney) and his easily persuaded partner Hall (Anthony Ramos) seize the opportunity to claim the cash for themselves. Thus far, things have been ticking along fairly uneventfully, but it's not long before someone gets shot in the face and someone else gets pulled out of a window.

Though Neeson is more cheesed-off than really furious this time round, as with much of his work in the genre, he feels like he's phoning it in. It's also not exactly ageist to suggest that Neeson's action hero days may be done. During a chase scene, he's hastily found on the other side of a chain link fence rather than being shown climbing it, and when he runs away it's certainly not quickly. There's a slow grapple with Jeffrey Donovan's nice Agent Meyers too. Donovan himself turns in a surprisingly nuanced and likeable performance given the not-exactly-subtle material, playing the honest and faintly exasperated Fed, even managing to make being lumbered with a dog sidekick seem pretty cute.

While it lacks the same profile, Honest Thief is by no means the worst of Neeson's tough guy output. But although apparently offering up a different kind of criminal protagonist, it's so unsurprising in every aspect of its execution it feels like a bit of a relic.

Available to watch in cinemas from Fri 23 Oct.

Honest Thief

  • 2 stars
  • 2020
  • US
  • 1h 39min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Mark Williams
  • Cast: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney

When a notorious bank robber falls in love, he decides to turn himself in and make a fresh start, only to be betrayed by two FBI agents.