An Ecstasy of Plot Contrivances: Honest Thief (2020)

honest1Honest Tom Dolan (Liam Neeson) has a secret life as a notorious bank robber (“the In and Out Bandit”) who through the love a good woman (Annie Wilkins, played by Kate Walsh) decides to do the right thing by Annie, assuage his conscience and turn himself in. Two FBI Agents who think he’s a fruitcake aren’t convinced, so Tom hands them the keys to his storage where he tells them they will find boxes of money from his robberies. They don’t take Tom with them, so that they could arrest him upon finding the ‘proof’ of Tom’s story, or if there is no money and Tom’s proven a hoaxer then charge him with wasting their time, BECAUSE. 

Well, because they are going to steal the money for themselves.

Later, having been double-crossed by the two FBI agents who have subsequently framed him for the murder of another, Tom gets Annie on a Greyhound bus to get her to safety out of town. He sees her get on the bus but walks away before it drives off, BECAUSE.

Well, because Annie is going to get off the bus and go back to her storage locker business as she’s remembered CCTV footage of the FBI agents stealing away with Tom’s money will be on a memory stick there. While she’s there the two FBI agents, looking for the same memory stick to destroy proof of their guilt, find her and the chief bad ‘un, Agent Nivens (Jai Courtney) beats her within an inch of her life, but runs away without completing the deed BECAUSE.

Well, because Tom has to be a hero and get her to hospital before she bleeds out or something. And then he has to get her out of said hospital BECAUSE.

Well, because she’s obviously still in danger from the bad agents who still have to silence her, so she’s got to be rescued from the hospital by Tom, who is on his own vengeance trip at this point (because its a Liam Neeson movie and vengeance is written into every script by contract). Agent Nivens goes to the hospital to finish her off but finds a good FBI agent in Annie’s room, protecting her, and he storms off, snarling (we know the good FBI agent is a good guy because he’s got a cute dog and every dog-owner’s a Good Guy). Hospital security isn’t a thing though, so when Tom arrives a little later he walks straight in, finds her room with his bank-robber’s sixth sense* and luckily Annie is in there no longer under guard BECAUSE. 

Well, because the good FBI agent has to go and walk his dog because Tom has to save her, silly, so he simply walks out of there with her and puts her in a bed in a nearby hotel and she heals pretty quick BECAUSE. 

Well, because she ‘s the love interest and the film isn’t over yet, so she’s up and about by morning, having a) been miraculously healed by Tom’s nursing and b) watched Tom fabricate some bombs as part of his revenge for being wronged by the dastardly Feds and its all something to do with his military service and his dad who died while rich guys got richer which is why he robbed the banks in the first place, because that where the rich guy’s money was being kept and…

Tom is some kind of Bank-Robbing Rambo (movies are proof that military service really sets people up for civilian life) and he knows where Agent Niven lives so wires it up with bombs whilst Niven is sleeping and… he lets Niven get out before blowing the shit out of his big house (in which thankfully no-else was living BECAUSE well that would make Honest Tom a murderer) and none of the neighbours comes out to witness the conflagration BECAUSE.

Well, because its a pretty bad and obvious CGI shot and the house is really just fine it never blew up and I’ve just broken the fourth wall here. 

Ah its a Liam Neeson film. Do these things even have fourth walls anymore?

*Bank robber’s sixth sense allows for said robber to guess the exact colour and shade of paint inside the abandoned retail outlets next door to his bank targets, so that after he has robbed the bank by tunnelling from the retail outlets he can redecorate said retail outlets so no-one would ever guess how he got in and out of the bank BECAUSE.

Well, because he’s the “In and Out Bandit” who was never caught until he gave himself in for the love a good woman. 

Honest Thief, should you hate yourself enough that you want to watch it, is currently showing on Amazon Prime.

3022 (2019)

3022aIf this film was from the 1970s, back in that post-Star Wars sci-fi boom, it would have been fine. Had it been a straight-to-VHS 1980s cheap-and-nasty knockoff of Ridley Scott’s Alien, as so many flicks were back then, again, it would have been fine. But 3022 isn’t. 3022 was released in November 2019 (oh dear) and is so unforgivably stupid and derivative its really something of a travesty. They shouldn’t be making genre films as bad as this in 2019 or 2020 or anytime post-millennium; there’s simply no excuse for it.

Let me be clear: I blame my wife. I’d have pressed the abort button on this travesty inside of thirty minutes but Claire was in some kind of mischievous mood, enjoying my pain and misery. By the end of the film I was a wailing wreck.

So its the year 2190. Yeah, I know, the title of the film is 3022, and everyone seeing that will naturally expect a film set in 3022, but that’s how silly this film is- the title actually refers to Day 3022 of a space mission. Most of the film is set in flashbacks with mysterious scenes presumably from day 3022 bookending scenes which  are the reminisces of a lone crewmember. Its all very vague and unexplained and I suppose is some kind of stab at being sophisticated. A Corporation has set up a colony on Jupiter’s third moon, Europa, and the Space Station Pangea is placed at the midpoint between Earth and Europa to serve as a refuelling station. Of course none of this actually makes any sense, why ships from Earth or returning to Earth would require refuelling or where Pangea gets replenished with said fuel is not explained. Nor why Pangea needs a crew of four to maintain it and nor why this crew has to serve tours of ten years stuck on board a steel can that looks like an art-directors worst nightmare of the Nostromo. We got shafts of light, dark gloomy corridors and rooms, steam and pipes and valves to turn and metal sheeting over floors and across walls and I swear one expects Giger’s creature to pop its head around every corner asking if its stumbled onto the wrong set.

3022bNow this crew of four is a particularly  messed-up and unlikely bunch of misfits. They look like space truckers (oh yes indeedy more Alien), the commander is shagging the engineer who is guilty she left her teenage daughter back on Earth, the doctor/psychiatrist is a crazy loon suffering from Space Madness (which is little wonder, the station is dark and gloomy and really nothing like what space stations are ever likely to look like outside of a Ridley Scott Alien flick), and the fourth crewmember is, well, I’m not sure who or what she is but she’s a young pretty cutie taken with kicking a football around does little else before being the first to fall. In fact none of them seems to do anything other than gradually unravel. Its not as if any ship even comes by for a refuel. They all sit around a table eating and smoking and drinking… yeah, these guys have ten year’s worth of ciggies stashed and no concerns for fire control or air scrubbers. Anyway, at one point in year four (or five? I was past caring) with the commander starting to suffer Night Terrors, they lose contact with Earth- the crazy shrink sees a flash of light where Earth should be and a shockwave damages the station turning their tour into a life and death fight for survival.

Its the End of the World and these fools are marooned on a space station falling to pieces as much as they are. Which possibly makes the film sound more interesting than it really is. Although ANYTHING makes this film sound more interesting than it really is. If this was some kind of comedy like the far superior Dark Star it might have been somehow amusing but its so deadly serious, so utterly deadpan and full of its own righteous self-importance… I didn’t even mind the godawful visual effects (which are woefully inferior to those of the low-budget Dark Star from 1974 (!)). A dramatic genre film can get by with horrid visual effects, I can forgive any such stuff, bad effects, bad acting, hokey sets,  in favour of a tight, plausible script but this… this was so bad. So bad. Its enough to give me my own Night Terrors, my own Space Madness…

This thing is streaming on Amazon Prime here in the UK. Avoid. Avoid at all costs.