Based on the eponymous novel by Nicholas Searle, The Good Liar follows conman Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) as he hopes to claim the fortune of wealthy widow Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren), whom he meets online, with the help of regular associate Vincent (Jim Carter).
The Good Liar’s strongest suit is in its performances from McKellen and Mirren. McKellen particularly relishes in the best dialogue that the screenplay has to offer, which is far and few, while Mirren does everything she can to evoke the stereotypical vulnerability of an old widow. Unfortunately, Mirren has very little to do beyond that, squandering her capabilities as an actress with a role that could have been fulfilled by someone much less talented. Even a supporting Russell Tovey, who plays grandson Steven, is given a bigger sandbox to play in.
The plot unravels in a series of clichés that become so increasingly preposterous that the film almost confuses itself with parody
The writing is flimsy at best. Although the first act contents itself with mediocrity, the plot unravels in a series of clichés that become so increasingly preposterous that the film almost confuses itself with parody. For a film called The Good Liar, it can all but hide the deception it hopes to lead audience’s on, giving off sirens and flashing lights for twists and turns you have seen before in films that are just much better.
Bill Condon’s direction complements Hatcher’s writing nicely in that both seem to have lost all grasp of what they are meant to be doing.
Bill Condon’s direction complements Hatcher’s writing nicely in that both seem to have lost all grasp of what they are meant to be doing. Carelessly searching for themes that fade in and out of his own film, Condon attempts to place emphasis on history and our understanding of the past without any conclusion or deeper question posed. Liar’s thematic meandering is, ironically, like watching a child avoid the truth without directly telling a lie.
Despite not being the worst element, the film’s action sequences shouldn’t go unscathed. The Good Liar will not be the most violent film you will see, but the action is so gratuitous and crudely shot that it’s nothing more than cheap compensation for genuine thrills that I implore you find elsewhere.