The Good Liar

When the actors are more engaging than the story

Con man extraordinaire Roy Courtney (Sir Ian McKellan), who specializes in wooing, winning, swindling and dumping rich old ladies, is putting the moves on his latest target, the millionaire widow Betty McLeish. The time-honored template for this kind of cat-and-mouse flick dictates that things will not be as easy for him as he imagines. The fact that Betty is played by an actress of Dame Helen Mirren’s status makes this inevitable. 

It would be a pleasure watching these two veterans deftly engage in nuanced back-and-forth even in a mediocre picture. Problem is, this is that mediocre picture. Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls, 2017’s Beauty and the Beast) is not Alfred Hitchcock. And as the fun intrigue morphs into an over-plotted theme of vengeance and victimhood, a sense emerges of missed opportunities.

February 7 (109 min)