‘ Hon­est Thief’ Liam Nee­son is back do­ing what he does best

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Magazine & Pets - By Michael O’Sul­li­van

There’s some­thing about any movie where Liam Nee­son gets ticked off that’s re­as­sur­ingly fa­mil­iar, like a cozy, old sweater. And as thread­bare and worn as the plot may be in “Hon­est Thief,” it has that same feel­ing: a lit­tle bit itchy, maybe, and smelling of moth­balls, but deeply, in­ex­pli­ca­bly com­fort­ing in these un­cer­tain times.

It’s the story of a ca­reer bank rob­ber whose at­tempt to come clean goes awry af­ter he’s framed for mur­der. Nee­son’s char­ac­ter, Tom, is a for­mer Marine de­mo­li­tions ex­pert, nat­u­rally. As Tom’s girl­friend, An­nie ( Kate Walsh), watches him go through the un­ro­man­tic work of wiring a bomb, she says, “Glam­our’s over­rated. But know­ing how to blow stuff up, that’s pretty cool.”

An­nie is ac­tu­ally the rea­son Tom has de­cided to go straight: Af­ter fall­ing in love with her, he con­tacts the FBI and of­fers to turn him­self in — along with ev­ery penny of the $ 9 mil­lion he stole if he can be guar­an­teed a short sen­tence in a prison with vis­i­ta­tion rights near his lady love. Mys­te­ri­ously, he hasn’t spent any of that money, some­how liv­ing off his sav­ings from his mil­i­tary ser­vice. ( In a mawk­ish so­lil­o­quy, Tom ex­plains to An­nie the real rea­son he went into a ca­reer in crime: It has some­thing to do with his fa­ther’s sui­cide.)

But things don’t work out the way Tom planned when a pair of cor­rupt

agents — a men­ac­ing hulk played by Jai Court­ney and his hes­i­tant but eas­ily swayed part­ner played by An­thony Ramos — de­cide to keep the loot that Tom has of­fered as ev­i­dence of his good faith. An­other FBI agent ( Robert Pa­trick) gets in their way and gets killed, and the crime is pinned on Tom, who must go on the lam to prove his in­no­cence, aided by a more con­sci­en­tious G- man named Mey­ers ( Jef­frey Dono­van), the part­ner of the mur­dered guy. So far, so for­mu­laic.

“I have to do this,” Tom says at one point, and later, “I’ll do this my way.”

He’s not wrong. There’s a sense that Nee­son, even more than Tom, was made for this stuff, snap­ping evil­do­ers’ fore­arms with a look half­way be­tween re­gret and plea­sure on the 68- year- old ac­tor’s in­creas­ingly lined face.

The story never re­ally makes much sense, start­ing with the mo­ment Tom blithely hands the crooked cops the keys to the stor­age locker con­tain­ing the cash. Oh, he has an ace up his

sleeve, sure. But very lit­tle in the film feels psy­cho­log­i­cally plau­si­ble, in­clud­ing the ease with which An­nie for­gives Tom for ly­ing to her about his past. Tom may be an hon­est thief, but this film’s script is full of baloney.

Still, there’s some­thing about Nee­son that makes you want to for­give him — whether it’s for bank robbery or for mak­ing yet an­other one of these movies.

“Go easy on me,” Tom

tells Mey­ers at the end of a film in which the pro­tag­o­nist has blown up a house, stolen sev­eral cars and com­mit­ted many, many mis­de­meanors. You can kind of be­lieve that Mey­ers will.

Open Road Films

Liam Nee­son plays a bank rob­ber framed for mur­der in "Hon­est Thief."

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