Thursday, June 10, 2021

Public Service Announcement: Beware Honest Thief


The Beloved Spouse™ and I have streamed a couple of stinkers from stars we usually enjoy. My first thought was to attribute both films’ flaws to COVID-related production issues, but it occurred to be the scripts were greenlit before things started shutting down.


I don’t often post just to dump on something, but this is a public service. Spoilers abound, and that’s so you don’t flush away parts of your precious lives like we did.


The film under discussion is Honest Thief, starring Liam Neeson. Unhinged, with Russell Crowe, is even worse.


The initial premise is intriguing. A robber names Tom has taken $9 million from seven banks over the past few years. He meets a woman, falls in love, and decides to turn himself in. I can buy this. First, it’s Liam Neeson. Second, I have a close friend who did something similar.


You’re probably thinking it’s a legal thriller. Robber goes to a lawyer, who calls the US Attorney (bank robbery is a federal crime), but things go awry in the red tape and politics of DOJ. Neeson’s the crook, Paul Giamatti’s his lawyer, and Will Patton or Bob Balaban plays the smarmy pud DOJ functionary who sends things reeling. I’d watch that.


Our crook doesn’t do that. He calls the FBI tip line with all the other wackos. They, of course do not take him seriously. How can he convince them? Well, he still has the money. Hasn’t spent a dime. How about if he tells them where it is? The feds finally send a couple of agents around and, lo and behold, they decide to keep the money and say it was never there. Go so far as to kill their boss when he starts checking up on them.


Tom’s not a complete idiot. He only gave the feds the location of three million. (The rest is in the next storage unit over.) He’s now engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with the crooked feds and their dead boss’s partner, who smells something fishy.


One of the feds is a lot more bent than the other. He’s the one who killed the boss (played by Robert Patrick, who would have been better served by revisiting his Terminator 2: Judgment Day skills, re-fabricated himself around the bullet would, and made his finger into a pokey thing to stab the crooked fed in the eye), and tried twice to kill our robber-hero’s girlfriend.


His younger partner shows signs of indecision. In fact, he is so indecisive he foregoes multiple opportunities to come clean at no risk to himself, thus donning a red shirt for the entire second half of the movie. (You can’t see it, but you know it has to be there, if only because he’s too stupid to live.)


Did I mention Tom way) is a demolitions expert? He blows up the really bent fed’s house as a warning. Houses on either side remain undisturbed in this fashionable Boston suburb, where a quick look will show you this can’t have been this cop’s first foray into illegality, as no FBI agent could afford that house in that neighborhood. (Why doesn’t the FBI keep tabs on this shit?)


This review is getting as tedious as the movie, so I’ll cut to the end. Our crook-hero sets up the fed by telling him there’s a pressure bomb under his car seat after he fled the house explosion. The bomb squad finds no detonator, but the ruse held Nemesis there long enough for our crook-hero to lay out all the evidence he’d accumulated so the dead boss’s partner is there to pick up the pieces.


In the end, Liam Neeson will do a couple of years in a minimum-security prison near Boston so his sweetheart can visit him. Apparently the local cops don’t have a problem with people blowing up entire houses in their jurisdiction.


This essay barely scratches the surface of the problems with this movie. Save yourselves now.


You’re welcome.


Elgin Bleecker said...

True, it’s crap. But we didn’t hate it as much as you. Liam made it watchable. I hope it was a payday movie for him, so he can take on small, interesting projects like, “Ordinary Love.” It would seem the writer, producer, and director knew nothing about the FBI, and made no effort to find out. The professionals at the bureau should protest, but I hear they are pretty busy.

Dana King said...

I stayed to the end for Liam. You're right about the production team knowing nothing of how law enforcement works, and obviously not caring.