Honest Thief

Year: 2020
Production Co: Solution Entertainment Group
Director: mark Williams
Writer: Steve Allrich/Mark Williams/Louis Per Bruno
Cast: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Robert Patrick, Anthony Ramos, Jeffrey Donavan

Not long before watching this flick I watched HBO's two hour-plus doco on Steven Spielberg's career, with Hollywood stars from all walks of life extolling the virtues of the director and his work.

One of them, who starred in his most personal (up until The Fabelmans) and emotionally impactful film – as he explained, it helped return him to his Jewish faith – was Schindler's List, which of course starred Liam Neeson in one of the most important – and best – roles of his career.

To consider where Neeson is today is a lesson in how skill as an actor translates in no way to discrimination about material, how actors listen to their agents or maybe just how they keep building pools or getting huge tax bills.

Because history will remember Neeson as two things – firstly as a great actor who once worked for Spielberg, Woody Allen and others, and secondly as floundering, dead-eyed and disinterested in a rash of poorly conceived and badly written action thrillers like this one. The Taken series was the (still very low) high point of a very unenviable run.

This time he's a bank robber, Tom, with an appropriately shady military past who gives him another particular set of skills, who falls in love with the perky, vivacious Annie (Kate Walsh), the attendant at a self storage place where he intends to stash his money.

Fast forward a year and Tom decides to give up his criminal ways and live straight. he also intends to come clean to her to complete his transformation to honesty, give himself up to the FBI, do the time he hopes is short if he cooperates, hope she forgives him and get on with their lives.

But he didn't reckon on the two dodgy agents assigned to his case, Nivens (Jai Courtney) and Hall (Anthony Ramos). When they go to the storage unit Dolan's told the FBI about and find all his dough, they decide to swipe it, silence him and pretend nothing ever happened.

Nivens, as the big bad of the movie, will go to any lengths to keep their duplicity secret, going as far as killing their boss (Robert Patrick) to cover it all up.

With two crooked murderers on his tail, Tom has no choice but to put Annie on a train to get her out of harms way and sneak, steal, fight and scheme his way into clearing his name.

Cue a series of set pieces that are well enough shot, but none of it's stuff you haven't seen a hundred times before, with the bordering-on-asleep Neeson in the middle of it all, looking like even he's saying to himself 'I was in Schindler's List, how do I keep ending up in crap like this?'

Courtney, who gives it his all and actually plays a half decent part, is another interesting case. After playing the villain of a Tom Cruise movie (Jack Reacher), being in one of the most zeitgeisty films of the 2010s (Suicide Squad), a Terminator movie and a Die Hard movie, he must be thinking he should be a bigger star than to end up in crap like this.

But as usual, you feel sorriest for the female lead, who probably run around their bedrooms squealing with glee when they get the call they've got the part, thinking it'll be their big break and giving it everything they have, only to wonder how they ended up in crap like this.

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