A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Honest Thief is a Liam Neeson action/revenge movie that's much lighter and more breezily entertaining than other Neeson movies of a similar nature. It's simple, effective, and lots of fun, despite the sometimes intense violence. It's mostly comic book-style stuff, although there is a scene of a man fighting a woman and bashing her face on a hard surface; she fights back, but it's still brutal. You can also expect guns and shooting, deaths, someone being stabbed with scissors, fighting, car chases/crashes, and explosions. Gunshot wounds and cuts and scrapes are shown. Language includes "crap," "ass," "pr--k," and a partly obscured use of "s--t." Two characters kiss and celebrate with wine.
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What's the story?
In HONEST THIEF, Tom Carter (Liam Neeson) is a professional thief who's stolen $9 million over the years without being caught. When he meets and falls in love with Annie (Kate Walsh), Tom decides to turn himself in, handing over the money in exchange for a shorter sentence. Unfortunately, FBI agents Nivens (Jai Courtney) and Hall (Anthony Ramos), who are assigned to check out Tom's claim, decide to keep the cash for themselves and send Tom up the river. After everything goes south and tragedy strikes, Tom has nothing to lose, so he falls back on his old skills with explosives to take his bitter revenge.
Is it any good?
Simple and effective, this action/revenge movie races along on the most basic, primal emotions, and, thanks to the unpretentious performances, is so "honest" that it's easy to forgive its silliness. In Honest Thief, Neeson once again capitalizes on the unique blend of lovable everyman and dangerous tough guy that's made him an action star, perhaps not unlike the early days of Charles Bronson. Tom's meet-cute with Annie is as adorable as his snarly line reading of "I'm comin' fer you" is exhilarating. Walsh is a good match for him, funny and spunky (her character's dire fate is the movie's one sour note).
Ramos is also appealing as an FBI agent whose conscience catches up with him, and Robert Patrick is likable as a trusting senior FBI man. (Courtney's one-note bad guy is a weak spot, but he still pulls it off in a brutish, brick-hard way.) The movie's best touch is Jeffrey Donovan as a good, wry, unflappable FBI agent who's inherited his wife's dog in their divorce and ends up bringing the dog on his investigation. At the helm, director Mark Williams keeps up a decent pace for a trim 99 minutes, and Honest Thief never takes itself too seriously. It's one of the lightest and most unapologetically entertaining movies of Neeson's career, and it may just steal your heart.
Talk to your kids about ...
How much of the movie's violence is directed toward women? Does that change its impact? How did the scene featuring that kind of violence feel different from other action scenes?
What makes Neeson such an appealing action star? Do you prefer him in movies like this, or in dramas? Why?
What's the appeal of revenge stories? What are the pros and cons of seeking revenge?
- In theaters: October 16, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: December 29, 2020
- Cast: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney
- Director: Mark Williams
- Studio: Open Road Films
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, crude references and brief strong language
- Last updated: January 5, 2021
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