PG Score: 7.25/10
The Good Liar was quite entertaining overall. It features an interesting enough premise revolving around career con artist Roy Courtnay (played by Ian McKellen) and his latest target, the recently widowed Betty McLeish (played by Helen Mirren). What starts off as a seemingly easy mark gradually transforms into a far greater challenge with sinister stakes. Despite some lapses during the climax, this is a relatively taut thriller throughout. The first act is where it truly shines. As the groundwork is being laid out, I was enthralled by the nuances of both the characters and the schemes at play. McKellen is in full form here as the lead opposite of Mirren, who is very good as well. Their back-and-forth, cat-and-mouse dynamic plays out wonderfully on screen and makes for high-grade entertainment. Her performance is strong, but McKellen's is brilliant. Throughout the course of his illustrious acting career, he has proven to be equally adept at playing the hero and the villain. Here, he perfects the latter. He’s cunning, menacing, and calculating. It’s truly a guilty pleasure type of performance where I couldn’t help but be captivated by his disquieting on-screen presence. The plot moves along at a brisk pace for the first half of the movie. The twists and turns are well-executed and the film maintains the steady pace without really missing a beat for the first hour or so. It’s smartest when it’s giving you just enough to pique your interest, but not enough to fully connect the dots just yet. There are quite a few secrets revealed towards the end of the movie. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s worth mentioning that many of these answers feel rushed and, quite frankly, very far-fetched. The Good Liar was locked into a smooth traveling speed, then went a bit off the rails during the finale. It doesn’t flat out ruin it, but it does leave a sour aftertaste on the palate. It’s a shame because for the majority of the film, it does a great job of avoiding most of the clichés of the twisty, mystery thrillers and really feels unique. While The Good Liar does get somewhat absurd during the final act, the rest of it is enough to recommend a visit to the theater.