Liam Neeson has right skills to save ‘Honest Thief’


Liam Neeson’s “Honest Thief” is now in theaters. (Photo courtesy of Open Road)

(KGET) — Now that movie theaters are open again, moviegoers can be reminded about the particular set of skills Liam Neeson brings to action movies like “Taken.” The big question with his latest effort, “Honest Thief,” is whether those skills are good enough to make up for a broken plot premise.

The 68-year-old Neeson’s latest role has him playing Tom Carter, a thief who has become known as the In and Out Bandit. He got the name because of his ability to rob a series of small-town banks of a total of $9 million without leaving a clue.

That changes when he meets the spunky Annie (Kate Walsh) and Carter decides to pay for his crimes. This way he can start a relationship with Annie without any secrets.

Carter calls the FBI to make a deal. He will turn in every penny of the $9 million if he can get a reduced sentence in a prison close enough for Annie to visit him. He didn’t count on a pair of crooked agents (Jai Courtney, Anthony Ramos) who decide to keep the money.

This leads to a series of fights and car chances that have become a hallmark of many of Neeson’s movies. But, the pacing is a little slower as the story moves between the tale of redemption and the love story.

The real problem with “Honest Thief” are the unrealistic story elements as written by director Mark Williams (the co-creator of superb television series “Ozark”). He needed Neeson’s character to be tough enough to be able to deal with crooked agents but if he made Carter a good guy, the film would have felt like a pale version of “Taken.”

He tries to make Carter both a bad and good guy and that doesn’t work. The explanation of why he robbed his first bank makes sense but there is no logic to all of the other bank robbers. And, the idea he has committed crimes over so many years isn’t going to give him any leverage he needs to live happily ever after with Annie.

Williams was smart in casting Neeson. Even as the story falls apart, he has such a powerful presence on screen that it is easy to be on his side even if he is a bad guy who thinks the world owes him something just because he has fallen in love.

Grade 2 ½ stars

Rated PG-13 for language, violence

If you are not ready to head back to the local movie theaters, here are some new DVD and Blu-ray releases plus some productions available through digital platforms that can be watched at home.

“Broil”: Teenager uncovers a deadly family secret.

“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie”: Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) must come to terms with his past in order to forge some kind of future. Being released in a limited edition.

“Mystery!: Van der Valk”: Street-smart detective leads his team in solving a raft of mysterious crimes.

“Seized”: Man must return to save his kidnapped son. Mario Van Peebles stars.

“Vikings: Season 6 Vol. 1”: Season six of the cable series follows the battle between brothers which has left Bjorn victorious and a hero to the people.

“Requiem for a Dream”: The Jared Leto film is being re-released to mark its 20th anniversary.

“The Soul of Midnight Special”: Features more than 70 live performances including Barry White and Earth, Wind & Fire.

“Three Comrades”: A look at 24 hours in the lives of three mid-level sales managers socializing after hours one Friday night.

“A Regular Woman”: A 23-year-old woman is shot point blank by her youngest brother as an “honor killing.” 

“Bad Mothers”: Five very modern mothers juggle the big issues of love, family, careers, infidelity and murder.

New on digital platforms

“Fatima”: Story of three children whose shared spiritual visions heralded a miracle and has inspired millions. Will be available on DVD Oct. 27.

“The Disrupted”: Three Americans see their place in the middle class slipping away.

“7 Minutes”: Policeman must look into the mysterious death of his son.

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