Honest Thief, by Albert W. Vogt III

I keep going to the theater on the weekends hoping that maybe it will finally be the weekend some big time movie will be there for me. Since cinemas have reopened near me, this has not been the case, with the exception of Tenet. Since then, though, it has been a series of openings with little or no fanfare. Maybe the YouTube and Facebook algorithms are trying to prevent people from going to watch a film in public? And that would be why I have not been seeing previews for the likes of The War with Grandpa or Save Yourselves! Only one of those was any good. Still, the trickle with which Hollywood is releasing its offerings at the moment allows me to catch up on what is available. The previous week I saw 2 Hearts, and that was not bad either, but there was also Honest Thief premiering. As there did not appear to be anything noteworthy this week, I was able to catch up.

Liam Neeson, who plays Tom Carter, otherwise known as the “In and Out Bandit” in Honest Thief, is one of those actors who did a good movie or two at one point, but is now basically playing the same character over and over. Hence if you have seen anything he has been in over the last few years, then you have essentially seen this movie. Tom is robbing banks in the Boston area and at first we do not know why, which was frustrating for me for half the time I watched it. He leads a life of crime until he meets Annie Sumpter (Kate Walsh), who manages a storage facility where he hopes to rent a space. After a year of dating, he decides they should move in together but he has not told her about his past. What he wants to do is confess to his misdeeds, not only to her but to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Surprisingly he has trouble with both. It is somewhat understandable to be hesitant to suddenly tell somebody you have built a relationship with that you are a criminal mastermind. With the FBI, though, Tom is dismissed as another quack who just wants to gain notoriety by saying he is a famous bank robber. Thus they send the B-team of agents to interview Tom at the hotel where he is staying and awaiting their arrival so he can make his confession. I guess because it is the FBI, Tom entrusts to Agents John Nivens (Jai Courney) and Ramon Hall (Anthony Ramos) the key to the storage container where most of the money is stashed. Unsurprisingly, the storage unit is the one where Annie works and they end up stealing the money. They go back to Tom’s hotel room to kill him, and that is when the lead agent, Sam Baker (Robert Patrick), finally shows up. So instead of murdering Tom, Agent Nivens ends up plugging Agent Baker with a few rounds, meaning that now they can pin a homicide on Tom. And because Annie just cannot wait to see Tom anymore, she shows up at the hotel in time to see Tom and Agent Nives burst out the window and land on the sidewalk in front of her, miraculously unhurt. In the midst of their fleeing is when he decides to tell her about his former life, and she decides to help him? Honestly, I do not get her motivation because we see nothing of their relationship. Regardless, she attempts to retrieve the surveillance footage of Agents Nivens and Hall taking the money, only to end up in the hospital for her efforts. Meanwhile, Tom is able to make contact with Agent Baker’s former partner, Agent Tom Meyers (Jeffrey Donovan), who sees that there is something amiss with Agents Nivens and Hall. Together they are able to set up Agents Nivens, aided somewhat by Agent Hall’s misgivings about their doings from the start, and clear Tom’s name. Of course, he still has to go to jail for robbing $13 million from various banks in the Boston metropolitan area, but at least he will have Annie there waiting for him when he is released from custody.

Aside from the extraordinary dedication Annie shows to Tom, and his desire to come clean (thus the title), there is nothing remarkable about Honest Thief. If he is so meticulous and methodical about breaking into vaults, why could he not see that handing two strangers a key to that much money could potentially be a problem? Maybe if he had decided to go with them it might have made it more palatable, although then he would died at a storage facility. And truly, how “honest” is Tom anyway? As it turns out, the long awaited reason for him turning to a life of crime was because his life turned pear shaped after he left the Marines. When he returned from his tour of duty, his mother died and his father’s former employer would not pay his pension, causing dad to commit suicide. The Bible prepares us for such difficulties, though it does not say they will be any easier to bear. It is understandable for people to lose hope. Lord knows I have been there a time or two, and I feel for people who are in a similar situation. If this describes you, know that I am praying for you. But is robbing banks the right solution for somebody referred to as honest? So he did not spend any of the money he stole. Then what was the point? To prove that he could do it? It seemed a little flimsy. In moments like this, I try to remember my Ignition training as a Spiritual Director. When in times of desolation, like when Tom loses both of his parents, it is best not to make any drastic changes in your life. Instead, cling to God, or your routine, and keep faith in the notion that things will get better. This way you can avoid falling out of a three story window, being shot, and almost blowing yourself up.

It was comforting to see a decent sized crowd for Honest Thief, though I can only imagine what they thought of it. It is not a bad movie. It is not a very good one, either. Very vanilla. Still, the number of moviegoers there, last week with 2 Hearts excepting, indicates that people want to go to the cinema, particularly if they were willing to show up for this by-the-numbers bank heist . . . drama? Look, if that is your thing, then you might appreciate this film. Further, there is nothing morally objectionable about it. At any rate, take all the precautions you feel are necessary, but go back to the movies! I would like to see you there. Yes, the films are not the best right now, but they will get better. I think.

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