Nothing but excellence can be expected from GODS AND MONSTERS and THE FIFTH ESTATE director Bill Condon and British heavyweights Helen Mirren (Oscar winner for THE QUEEN) and Sir Ian McKellen(Two-time Oscar nominee), But what is lacking here is a somewhat lack of surprise.
Before venturing out for the film screening, I was hypothesizing the film’s plot. Con man McKellen entices Mirren for a date and aims at stealing all her money. McKellen falls for Mirren while she discovers the truth and ends up milking McKellen instead for all his worth. Not all of the above is true for the movie, but a fair portion is, and it is a good guess, from just watching the film’s trailer.
When the film begins, the audience sees the pub date between two who have met using ‘computer services’. They immediately confess they honour the truth though each are superb liars, fooling notably each other, but the audience as well. This is the more fun part of the script. Consummate con man Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren), worth millions. And Roy means to take it all.
From their very first meeting, Roy begins plying Betty with his tried and true manipulations, and Betty, who seems quite taken with him, is soon going along for the ride. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes—revealing more insidious deceptions that will take them both through a minefield of danger, intrigue and betrayal.
The quite too incredible to be believed story is based on a widely acclaimed novel by Nolas Seattle adapted for the screen by Jeffrey Hatcher who also penned MR. HOLMES also directed by Condon.
The supporting cast fare well. Russell Tovey (THE HISTORY BOYS and QUANTICO) plays the supposedly grandson of Betty while the excellent Jim Carter last seen in DOWNTON ABBEY plays Roy’s friend and conman.
The script’s story takes the audience back to World War II Germany where credibility becomes the issue where background on the real Roy Courtney is dumped on the audience. The film also contains some brief nudity but a quite a bit of violence. The struggle between Roy and Betty at the film’s climax is rather laughable and could have been due eliminated.
A few continuity problems exist, that many might not be aware of. One segment has Roy enter the London Underground through Piccadilly Circus station. Once inside, the tube walls indicate Charing Cross Station.
THE GOOD LIAR ends up a cheesy thriller, with some really nasty bits – not entirely boring but lacking more solid substance.