Honest Thief - C
Rated PG-13, 99 minutes
Since 2008, when the hit iconic film "Taken" revitalized his career as an action star, Liam Neeson's career has been full of good/bad guys trying to make right. He does so again in the overly familiar, modestly entertaining thriller "Honest Thief," co-written and directed by "Ozark" producer Mark Williams. Though Neeson is always watchable, you feel he and the film are just going through the motions.
They call him the "In-and-Out Bandit" because meticulous thief Tom Carter (Liam Neeson) has stolen $9 million from small-town banks while managing to keep his identity a secret. But after he falls in love with the bubbly Annie (Kate Walsh of the recent "The Umbrella Academy"), Tom decides to make a fresh start by coming clean about his criminal past, only to be double-crossed by two corrupt FBI agents ("Suicide Squad's" Jai Courtney & "Hamilton's" Anthony Ramos).
If you have a feeling of deja vu all over again watching the middling, mediocre crime tale "Honest Thief," you wouldn't be alone. There are few, if any surprises in this stale cops and robbers tale with - big surprise here - Neeson as a bank robber with a heart. Williams has assembled a talented supporting cast: Walsh, Courtney, Ramos, Robert Patrick, and Jeffrey Donovan (who's been largely MIA since his breakout TV show "Burn Notice"), though it's Neeson's charming energy that barely holds the film together.
"Honest Thief" isn't terrible, but it isn't all that great, either. Turning the cat-and-mouse premise into a mouse-and-cat thriller is Williams' only original move here, yet he does very little with it, filling it with plot holes, unmemorable cardboard characters ("Terminator's" Patrick has scant time here, and Walsh‘a role is a wasted one) and disappointing cop/robber scenes that feel like a ripoff of the 1995 De Niro/Pacino thriller "Heat," which did this much better.
If there's one thing that "Honest Thief" does well, aside from continuing to typecast Neeson, is capitalize on his effective ability to make threatening phone calls in that gravely whisper he's used since "Taken." The predictable finale comes as no surprise, though it doesn't end without some blood, bullets and bombs, which might be enough for Neeson's fan base, and aside from him, "Honest Thief" is a forgettable exercise, most guilty of taking your time.