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  Honest Thief Reason With Neeson
Year: 2020
Director: Mark Williams
Stars: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Jeffrey Donovan, Anthony Ramos, Robert Patrick, Biros Tarkan Yildiz, Adam Teper, Jose Guns Alves, Osmani Rodriguez, Janelle Feigley, Devon Diep, Jamie Ghazarian, Michael Malvesti, Lewis D. Wheeler
Genre: Drama, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: He was known as The In and Out Bandit, but Tom (Liam Neeson) has had enough of his life of crime, and has decided to eschew it in favour of going on the straight and narrow instead. There's just one problem: he is still wanted by the FBI, and there's no way they would let him settle down with the nine million dollars he has amassed over the ten years he was active, which is a shame because he has found a woman he would really like to settle down with for the rest of his days. She is Annie (Kate Walsh), and she runs a storage space depot where Tom has stashed his cash; they got to chatting, enjoyed an instant attraction, and now she is enough of a reason for him to change his ways. But he discovers that is easier said than done when that amount is involved...

Contrary to popular opinion, after Liam Neeson's disastrous press conference for Cold Pursuit in 2019 he did not go into hiding, labelled a racist (not a good idea if you want a career in the media - well, usually), but continued to work and make movies. What he had announced was his retirement from action movies once the effect Taken had had on his career had worn off, or possibly because the novelty of making those types of efforts had worn off for him personally, but no sooner had he said Cold Pursuit would be his last he was announcing that he was making more of them, and Honest Thief was one. In truth, though his endeavours in this thriller genre had been, well, generic a lot of the time, there remained a few good moments in many of them that justified their presence.

Honest Thief was something different, though only because it was a step down on the slickness scale from those other movies - had the budget been slashed after Neeson's faux pas, or was it always going to look like a cheap training video? If you were used to his thrillers serving a certain gloss to their thrills and spills, then the effect here could be quite jarring, as if Steven Seagal was about to walk through the door at any moment (not that he would - there was no love lost between Neeson and him), it had that shoestring, coasting on the big name quality for much of its running time. But there were other names here too, ones you would like to imagine might have attracted investors: Jai Courtney was probably the biggest of those, okay his blockbusters had not been the most popular in their style, but people had gone to see them, and there would be some who relished watching he and Neeson going toe to toe.

An indication of the impression you would get was when Robert Patrick, not a huge star but a recognisable face, ended up in two scenes (plus one shot of him lying on the floor) before his services were no longer required. He was essaying the role of an FBI man Tom calls to turn himself in, but really it was TV actor Jeffrey Donovan who would be the good guy and potential lifeline (we can tell he's all right because he has a cute pet dog that earns its own space in the credits), and crooked agent Courtney the baddie, along with his partner Anthony Ramos who increasingly reluctantly accompanies him on his attempts to get his hands on the full fortune. There was a car chase or two, a spot of shooting and some hand to hand combat, and none of it was very surprising, but you know, it was easy to watch, not too taxing, and if you didn't mind the low production values then co-writer and director Mark Williams, who had made a success of TV series Ozark but if anything rendered this looking even more televisual, was a safe enough pair of hands to present a movie you wouldn't remember, but was diverting on its basic level. Music by Mark Isham.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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