We are in desperate need of a fantasy movie renaissance, and I truly hope “Honor Among Thieves” is the one to lead the charge. It takes a true D&D fan to really know how to bring this universe to life and director John Francis Daly rises to the challenge brilliantly. “Honor Among Thieves” is one of the more refreshing genre pictures of 2023; it’s a movie that is filled with so much appeal for any audience. I dare say that it might even open the door to a new generation of players.
Edgin Darvis is a former member of a group called the Harpers who, after his wife is killed by an evil group known as the Red Wizards, tries to execute a heist to retrieve an item that can bring her back to life. But he’s betrayed and imprisoned with his long time friend Holga, a barbarian. Affter escaping, they discover that Edgin’s daughter Kira has been taken in and lied to by their team’s former ally Forge Fitzwilliam. Forge has also teamed with a vicious Red Wizard named Sofina. Now Edgin teams with Holga, and a pair of misfit warriors to rescue his daughter and elicit payback to Forge and Sofina.
Easily one of the best aspects of “Honor Among Thieves” is the dazzling direction by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. Their ability to really suck us in to the action while also competently building this world for everyone is fantastic. “Honor Among Thieves” is really a movie you can enter in to if you’ve never been apart of this world, but also packs in a ton of Easter eggs for long time devotees (The Maze sequence in particular). I am a fairly casual fan of “Dungeons & Dragons” and had no problem engaging in everything that was unfolding. So much of the film is built on set up followed by pay offs that are not just exciting but absolutely satisfying.
“Honor Among Thieves” also wonderfully builds a cadre of likable heroes and excellent villains, all of whom are worth following from beginning to end. The entire cast contributes well in one way or another, fleshing out these misfit heroes tasked with some fairly high stakes missions. I was immediately drawn in to their journey and was always charmed by its sense of whimsy, and its ability to balance light hearted adventure (the segment with the talking corpses is genius), with a serious emotional core involving family, and sacrifice. Characters grow here, they progress, and they evolve, which makes them fantasy characters that allow us to connect with.
Chris Pine is a great dashing hero as Edgin Darvis, acting shockingly well off of Michelle Rodriguez, who plays his long time friend and partner the barbarian Holga Kilgore. Justice Smith is also very good as aspiring sorcerer and half elf Simon. I was especially fond of Sophia Lillis as Doric, a shape shifting druid who proves to be a worthy adversary despite her initial reluctance. Daisy Head is also marvelous as the film’s powerful villain, the red wizard with desires to rule the world. “Honor Among Thieves” is clearly a work of love from its pair of directors, and it’s one of the best films of 2023, by far. I eagerly await a sequel, I can’t wait to re-visit this universe.