Yes, we all love Liam Neeson in these kinds of films --- except THE GREY (2012), which was one of the worst movies ever made --- but I digress. However, it was seeing Jeffrey Donovan in HONEST THIEF that made me happiest. I so miss “Burn Notice”.
Neesom plays Tom Carter, a very successful bank robber who has managed to pilfer $9 million from various banks, all in small towns. He hasn’t spent any of it, he’s basically bored and wanted to see if he could pull these robberies off without being caught.
But then he meets Annie Sumpter (Kate Walsh) when he’s renting a storage unit to hide his loot. It’s love at first sight --- and a year later Tom decides he wants to turn in the money --- and himself --- for a reduced sentence. Of course, he has imparted none of this information to Annie.
He contacts the FBI to inform them that he’s the “In-and-Out Bandit” --- a moniker he detests --- but they don’t believe him. When he gives up enough info which makes it seem plausible, two agents, John Nivens (Jai Courtney) and Ramon Hall (Anthony Ramos) are sent to interview him. When they double-cross him by murdering another agent and stealing some of the money, Tom must prove his innocence with the help of Tom Meyers (Donovan), an FBI field office manager.
Written and directed by Mark Williams, HONEST THIEF is pretty standard fare. The aging Neesom still has it in him to make it interesting. And as always, he’s delightfully charming when he’s not trying to maim someone. He and Walsh make a good couple with just enough chemistry.
But it is Donovan’s character Tom who gives HONEST THIEF the boost it needs. He’s just gotten divorced and the only thing he managed to get was the dog, Tazzie --- and you guessed it --- she’s ADORABLE. At first he’s annoyed --- he only took her to piss off his ex-wife --- but Tazzie grows on him, and he takes her everywhere --- thus providing HONEST THIEF with much-needed comic relief.
HONEST THIEF isn’t going to win any awards, but fans of Neesom will appreciate his efforts. I found it a rather good diversion for 99 minutes.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!
It’s been a while, but in HONEST THIEF we have a Liam Neeson movie that doesn’t defy credibility and manages to hold our interest throughout. Well, actually, there is one possible lapse in credulity when Tom Carter (Neeson) hands over the key to a storage unit to two FBI agents but doesn’t accompany them to the facility.
Carter is a thief dubbed the “In-and-Out Bandit” because of his ability to rob small bank vaults by using explosives, a trade he learned in the Marines. Because he wants to turn himself in after falling in love with Annie (Kate Walsh), he tries to cut a deal with the Feds. His plan is to turn over the money in exchange for a lighter sentence.
The problem is that the agents, played by Jai Courtney and Anthony Ramos, get greedy when they find $3 million in the storage space. Another catch in HONEST THIEF is that there is an additional $6 million hidden somewhere else. I wonder how often in real-life busts that the investigating cops are tempted to abscond with the loot.
The two bad guys make terrible choices as the story moves along, but Ramos’ character is a family man who reluctantly gets strung along by the nefarious Agent Nivens (Courtney). Although the rest of the film is fairly predictable, HONEST THIEF is not a bad way to spend 99 minutes in this era of Covid.
As for Neeson, he’s still authentic playing a tough guy and he’s always been a decent actor when given the right material. Of course, nothing will ever top his heroic turn in SCHINDLER’S LIST. Walsh turns in a good performance as the girlfriend and she is appropriately shocked to learn that her significant other is a wanted criminal.
HONEST THIEF is written and directed by Mark Williams, co-creator of the acclaimed Netflix original “Ozark” which made Williams a double Emmy nominee, along with his cast, for Outstanding Drama Series. Unfortunately, HONEST THIEF doesn’t come close to “Ozark” for suspense or quality writing.
Maybe the best part of HONEST THIEF is the frequent appearance of Tazzie, the dog owned by FBI Agent Meyers (great to see Jeffrey Donovan, a favorite of ours from TV’s “Burn Notice”). We get to see Tazzie at least a half dozen times and if you’re a dog lover you will appreciate what a treat it is to see this adorable pooch.
Opinion: Wait for VOD