If there’s one thing about The Good Liar that got my attention the most, it was the first onscreen collaboration for Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren. And as expected, they form great chemistry playing as a couple while each of them commands a reasonably engaging performance.
Even the story itself has an interesting potential, with Jeffrey Hatcher adapted his screenplay from Nicholas Searle’s mystery-thriller novel of the same name. Here, The Good Liar basically follows a con man Roy Courtnay (McKellen) who attempts to court a wealthy widow named Betty (Helen Mirren). That’s all you need to know since revealing anything beyond would be a spoiler-heavy territory.
Solid performances from both screen veterans aside, The Good Liar does a good job offering a few worthwhile moments. There are two particular scenes worth mentioning here, one that involved a subway station and a brilliant sleight-of-hand moment where Roy pulls off a con job against his two associates.
Unfortunately, such scenes only happen sporadically with the movie’s erratically-paced 110-minute running time and its exposition-heavy moments could have used some trimming.
Another thing that bugs me the most is the movie’s third-act. While I admit I did not expect the unlikely twist in the first place, the sudden bait-and-switch revelation feels more jarring than rightfully earned. It’s like as if the twist is added in the last minute just to elicit an audience’s shocking response. If only director Bill Condon and screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher can find better ways to handle the novel’s deceptive storytelling, the movie would have benefited with a stronger result.
Despite the shortcomings, The Good Liar remains a fairly decent thriller. Of course, if there is another Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren’s onscreen collaboration in the future, they clearly deserve better material.