Review Rating: 7/10

Film Details:

Director: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein

Cast: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head, and Hugh Grant

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 2 hours, 14 minutes

Available in wide theatrical release


Who knew that an old-school, role-playing game previously adapted unsuccessfully could be effectively rebooted? And how could the comedy directing team responsible for 2018’s “Game Night” pivot so well into the fantasy genre? “Honor Among Thieves” is a sure-fire franchise starter, delivering fun, light, family entertainment.

In “Thieves,” Chris Pine is Edgin, the leader of a band of thieves who embark on an epic quest. Edgin’s crew includes Holga (Michelle Rodriquez), his tough-as-nails enforcer, a hapless sorcerer named Simon (Justice Smith), and Doric (Sophia Lillis), a ferocious animal shape-shifter. They seek assistance from Xenk (Regé-Jean Page), a gallant hero who can confront almost any threat.

When Forge (Hugh Grant), a former member of Edgin’s gang, gains control of a kingdom, the thieves must work together to thwart his plans while doing pitched battle with a powerful sorcerer. Along the way, the core team of thieves must accomplish specific tasks by figuring out how to use their magic while also discovering how to work together.

The attractive cast and colorful visuals make this whimsical adventure work.

Pine is in great comic form as the de facto leader, whose skills are hard to discern. When Pine’s Edgin says, “he has a plan,” the team instinctively knows that it’s, at best, the beginnings of one. But his happy-go-lucky attitude helps to mask the risks. Laughing in the face of death might be his superpower.

But Edgin’s motivations on this quest go beyond a search for riches, and when he’s given a chance to win back his daughter’s love and regain his former life, Edgin will sacrifice everything and stop at nothing. The central theme of family and how that unit is formed and maintained is a good one here.

Rodriguez plays Holga as a muscled-up, axe-toting head-breaker. In addition to powerfully wielding various weapons, she always makes skilled use of a potato. But she also has a soft side. And like everyone in the gang, Holga has an emotional connection to the journey’s success.

Smith and Lillis are great as youngsters with a romantic spark between them. While Smith plays his Sorcerer-in-training with the requisite timidity, Lillis is his take-charge polar opposite. And the visuals involving these two are a highlight of the film.

When Lillis’ Doric transforms from magical creature to creature, the camera follows along closely. In one fantastic sequence, Doric jumps from animal to animal through doorways, windows, and even cracks in the floor. These scenes were awe-inspiring when you consider that, in my screening, they were presented in 2D. While it appears that the film isn’t available in 3D, I could see this playful movie experience working in that format.

“Bridgerton” heart-throb Page flexes his leading man muscles as the courageous Xenk. When he’s on screen, the film briefly feels like something akin to the “Lord of the Rings” franchise. But the tone of “Thieves” never gets too dark. Page could easily become a big movie star, and his swagger here gives us a glimpse at what he could do in another heroic role that of James Bond.

I found “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” a refreshing comic adventure fantasy that understood that the action and snappy banter should lead rather than an endless series of pop song needle drops.

The musical score, while thunderous, when necessary, didn’t seek to be the artificial enhancement by shoehorning a bit of classic rock or an aged pop hit underneath the sweeping visuals. Hats off to the production team for not larding up the picture with too many forced elements that lazily inform audience emotions.

“Honor Among Thieves” should reinvigorate interest in the role-playing game created in the 1970s. And if it is a box-office hit, expect to see more exploration of this universe and these endearing characters.