Veteran British thespians Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren are their usual charming and talented selves in the generally predictable, formulaic deception and revenge movie THE GOOD LIAR. The only reason I went to see this new release is because I’m a fan of the two stars. I have no idea what McKellen and Mirren were each thinking when they signed onto being in this pedestrian screenplay, other than they’d have fun working together for old time’s sake. I suspect the two are good friends in real life.
I admit to somewhat enjoying watching the cat and mouse dynamic between an elderly con man with a shady past (McKellen) and his latest target (Mirren), a recent widow left with a modest yet substantial fortune. However, I kept waiting for the intrigue to build more, have more twists and turns, instead of plateauing by mid-story and then heavily relying on narrated flashback by the end. And going back to Nazi Germany as a main source of evil in the film reminded me of campy TV shows from the 1960s, such as MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, etc.– so old hat/formulaic. I wonder if this production would have felt fresher if it were made at least forty years ago?
Perhaps I am simply jaded with age whereby I’ve seen so many of the same plots played out in movies and TV shows over the years. But, I can’t shake the sense that the drama lacked emotional intensity, even though McKellen and Mirren brought their natural talents to such a lackluster script. There is only so much one can do with blase material no matter how skilled you are.