Doing the Right Thing

In separating itself – or at least attempting to – from other “Liam Neeson punches people” movies, Honest Thief uses a snarky, even cynical tone. Neeson plays a former bank robber trying to turn himself in, but keeps being thwarted by uncaring, totally indifferent FBI agents. They assume it’s a hoax.

Then things take a serious turn. Innocent victims end up dead. There’s a varied morality play underneath a typical, played-to-type action thriller: A corrupt FBI goon on the bottom, Neeson somewhere in the middle, and the greater federal hierarchy turned to heroes. Honest Thief carefully balances itself, challenging acceptable behavior, and choosing to ignore the concept of a perfect hero. At each tier, there are flawed choices and personalities.

The character complexity, insofar as such a movie is complex, gives Honest Thief momentum

Neeson’s ex-Marine justifies his past actions. While retired (and in love), he only broke into banks because his father’s end came because of greedy CEOs. It’s almost a modern Robin Hood, except Neeson never did anything with the money; he just kept it to make sure those undeserving didn’t have access. Honest Thief finds empathy in those actions, this while Neeson chases down others willing to kill for a quick getaway.

The character complexity, insofar as such a movie is complex, gives Honest Thief momentum. In the back half, energy derives from shootouts and car chases, competently done, if unremarkable. What matters is whether Neeson can make right, determined to out those who wronged him because they choose crime to benefit only themselves. Neeson sees this as safe-cracking social justice for all. That gives the gunplay stakes beyond good/evil colliding.

While Honest Thief isn’t inherently memorable, joined at the hip to things like Non-Stop, the 90-minute blitz entertains in the moment. Nicely contained, there’s no sequel or franchise due in the future; Honest Thief completes these characters in full, their futures known, their decisions reasonable. Consider this movie-going comfort food without the caloric downside.

Video

Graded with a cool aesthetic, Honest Thief takes on a heavy blue tint and occasionally teal push. Primaries stay reserved; flickering police lights produce the deepest/brightest color. Flesh tones surprisingly make it out unscathed, saturated enough to survive the colder push.

While noisy at times (and encoding slips in foggier areas, the storage unit office especially), digital cinematography stays clear for most of the runtime. Some great city aerials bring out resolution, perfectly sharp. Precise facial detail keeps the eye focused and the disc pleasing. The source is likely a 2K finish, more than enough to stabilize things.

Nicely mixing day and night, that challenges contrast and black levels. Both succeed. Intense light drives numerous scenes; windows allow plenty in. Hefty shadows offer needed density, near true black if not all the way there.

Audio

Rudimentary sound design nicely utilizes the offered 7.1 soundstage. Bullets fling between channels, tightly locked to specific speakers. Motion isn’t the mix’s strongest suit. Chase scenes bring panning vehicles, sufficient, but unremarkable. The opening scene plays audible news reports, darting into positional channels, a nice touch.

So-so range uses the score primarily. A little thrust from car engines and crashes acknowledge the subwoofer. But, like the discrete work, it’s not memorable.

Extras

Nothing. It’s a totally blank disc other than the movie.

Honest Thief
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  • Extras
3

Movie

Liam Neeson fights corrupt feds in the routine but capable action thriller Honest Thief that delivers competent characters.

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