Liam Neeson talks about his latest film ‘Honest Thief’

Liam Neeson and Kate Walsh star in "The Honest Thief," a thriller coming out October 16, 2020 in theaters. CR: Open Road Films

Credit: Open Road Films

Credit: Open Road Films

Kate Walsh of “Private Practice" fame is his love interest.

Liam Neeson has a wide range of skills but has been able to parlay a particular set of them to become a surprisingly effective latter career action hero the past decade. Think “Taken,” “Non-Stop,” “The Grey,” and “Cold Pursuit.”

“Honest Thief,” which arrives in movie theaters this weekend, is not an outlier in that regard. The action thriller provides Neeson yet another opportunity to embody a character with demons inside of him while offering enough countervailing empathy and warmth to make him likable, no matter how violent he gets.

In this case, the two-word title is super descriptive: Neeson, 68, plays Tom Carter, a former Marine and demolition expert who becomes a bank robber who steals $9 million from 12 small-town banks. What makes him more noble than the typical robber is the fact he never spent any of it, enjoying the act of robbing more than the money that came with it.

After falling in love with sweet Annie (Kate Walsh of “Private Practice” fame), Tom decides to relieve his guilty conscience by admitting his crimes to the FBI in exchange for a shorter prison sentence. But two dirty FBI agents thwart his plans and endanger Annie’s life. So, Neeson is back on the rampage and gets to say things like “Agent Nivens: I’m coming for you!”

“When we were making the movie, I was hoping they’d change the title because it was too on the nose,” said Neeson in a brief junket interview last month via Zoom with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s about a thief who wants to become honest because he’s met this extraordinary woman played by Kate... That’s the bedrock of this story. It’s what drew me to the script."

Walsh, who has been a regular on two popular young adult Netflix series, “The Umbrella Academy” and “13 Reasons Why,” said she liked the whole old-fashioned “cops and robbers on the run” storyline. “It starts out with a couple of people with a past, who have been around the block, then fall for each other in a very real way,” she said. “They’re broken, but their love is not broken... This glue made it buoyant and more than just an action film."

The film will be in theaters, although only about half the movie theaters in America are open and many major films have either been delayed until 2021 or went straight to video on demand or streaming services. Regal shut down a second time, and AMC is running low on money. Last weekend’s top-grossing film was Atlanta-produced "The War with Grandpa” at just $3.5 million.

“Honest Thief” will be in more than two dozen theaters in metro Atlanta starting Friday and more than 2,000 theaters in North America.

Neeson said he has not sat inside a movie theater since the pandemic began but he did sample an outdoor drive-in theater to catch “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” starring Harrison Ford, who began doing action hero work decades before Neeson.

“It was my first drive-in I’m afraid to say,” Neeson said. “It was a really incredible piece of Americana. Being there in my car with a buddy beside me, seeing these other cars with kids running around, it was just lovely."

Walsh, who shot the 2017 film “Felt" in Atlanta with Neeson, is thrilled people will have the opportunity to see the film in a movie theater. In August, she was in Australia, where the coronavirus isn’t nearly as prevalent, participating on a jury for the CinefestOZ Film Festival.

She said it was surreal after months of quarantine stateside. “Oh my gosh, I’m sitting in a movie theater watching a film with popcorn!” she said. “It was just so wonderful!”

Liam Neeson stars as “Tom Carter” in director Mark Williams’ HONEST THIEF, an Open Road Films release. Credit : Open Road Films

Credit: Open Road Films

Credit: Open Road Films

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