I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons or consumed any of the previous media based around it, so I didn’t really have any expectations heading into Honor Among Thieves, the latest attempt to create a film franchise from toy company Hasbro. Luckily, while it is exposition heavy, it winds up working pretty well as a fun bit of escapist entertainment. And all of that information-dumping feels pretty similar to how I would imagine a Dungeon Master might have to handle setting a group of players up for a session, making it work better that it probably should.
Edgin Davis (Chris Pine), a bard and Harper, has lost his wife and now must raise their daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman) alone. He meets a barbarian named Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez) who takes pity on his situation and begins to help him and the two turn to theft. They get joined by amateur sorcerer Simon Aumar (Justice Smith) and conman Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant), forming an effective little team. One day they are contacted by a mysterious woman named Sofina (Daisy Head) who needs Edgin’s help entering a Harper stronghold, but once inside things go awry and he and Holga are trapped, with Forge promising to look after Kira.
Two years later, Edgin and Holga escape from prison, and set off trying to find his daughter. When they reach the city of Neverwinter, they discover that Forge has somehow managed to become Lord of the realm, keeping Kira in royal comfort but also convincing her that her father had abandoned her. They also learn that Forge and Sofina were responsible for their capture and that a deeper plot is afoot before having to escape from the castle. Outside they track down Simon and a shapeshifting druid named Doric (Sophia Lillis) to team up and rescue Kira and the kingdom, with a little help from a paladin named Xenk (Regé-Jean Page) along the way.
It’s a lot of plot, that features perhaps a few too many convenient coincidences but it moves along briskly and the cast give game performances, clearly enjoying the material. As with most post-Marvel blockbusters, there’s quippy dialog scattered throughout, some of it effective and some it less so, but the universe of the film allows for some more interesting absurdist sight gags. It’s genuinely fun watching a movie that sometimes feels like a throwback to the fantasy films of a few decades ago, when the characters wandered worlds filled with unique species often played by actors in charmingly cheesy puppet costumes. Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein also prove surprisingly adept at staging action sequences, with some genuinely inventive camera work and memorable set pieces. This is a world I would like to go back to populated with characters I’d like to see again. I don’t know how well it would hold up to repeat viewings, but there’s at least a little magic to it the first time around. ★★★★
rated pg-13 for fantasy action / violence, and some language.
★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor