13th Dec2021

‘Good Thief’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Peter Donahue, Shomari Giles, Robert Laenen, Melanie Mahanna, Jimmy Doom, Jillian Craighead, Ebony Tates, Gary Brunner | Written by Aaron Sizemore | Directed by Lance Kawas

Good Thief is a Detroit-set crime noir thriller about two small-time crooks, Danyy and Johnny who, after their latest heist goes wrong, decide to rob a pawn brokers. You see Danny’s girlfriend knows that the local hookers all pawn the gifts they get turning tricks to “Honest Abe”. Teaming up with a getaway driver Carl the trio manage to successfully pull off the heist, robbing Abe of his precious, and valuable, baseball card collection. There’s just one catch. The cards belonged to Honest Abe’s father and were NOT for sale and now he’s REALLY angry. Oh… and he’s also the serial killer that’s been making the local news!

Where did that plot device come from? Yes, You’d think making a heist movie would be enough for any filmmaker but Lance Kawas, working from a script from first-time writer Aaron Sizemore, Tom Sizemore’s younger brother! You see Good Thief has actually been in the works for a good number of years – in fact it was a passion project for Tom Sizemore back in 2014, one that was supposed to get him back on track following his much-publicised issues with alcohol. They even announced a crowdfunding campaign for the film in September of that same year, apparently seeking $500,000 on top of the $2million they’d already got from investors.

That was then though. Now it’s some 7 years later and Tom Sizemore’s name is nowhere on this finished film and neither is original director Giorgio Serafini (Blood of Redemption, Senior Moment). Instead Lance Kawas, who has a wealth of experience in low-budget independent filmmaking, as well as helming a number of crime thrillers in the past, takes the reigns; and probably made the best of what he could from Sizemore’s script and more importantly, the budget. Because it’s clear this script was written for a bigger budget and a big name cast – it’s clearly aiming for Michael Mann style crime thriller, filed with car chases, action and a serial killing character that would’ve led some star names on a manhunt.

But with Good Thief we end up with a finished product that probably cost a twentieth of the budget that film would have.

To be fair to all involved though – including our two leads who don’t have much experience between them – everyone seems to have made the best of what they did have. Though you have to question Kawas for keeping in, and Peter Donahue for keeping a straight face, during the ridiculous “flashlight” scenes… Looking for an honest man? Really? That clearly sounds like some pretentious verbiage we’d get from a Michael Mann wannabe thriller. As are the constant Shakespeare references. When the budget was cut so should have those types of lines, they just feel awkward and totally out of place in a film that looks like, and is performed like, this. It’s almost undermines everything else in the film. Though if we’re talking undermining things, who decide Jimmy Doom should overage literally everything he does in this film? The Detroit native chews through his lines – especially when he’s in full “angry killer” mode – and becomes almost a pastiche of this type of character!

On the plus side, at least the cinematography and score are both really good; both reminding me of Ben Affleck’s The Town. Which is the undoubtedly highest praise I can give any part of this film.

*½  1.5/5

Good Thief is available to watch now on Amazon Prime.


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