Career con artist Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) online. As Betty opens her home and life to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her, turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life.
Considering the magnetism and skill of both Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren, it's a shame that it's now so rare for both of them to be leading a movie. That said, there's no excuse for how poor 'The Good Liar' is, and you get the sense they both signed on merely as an excuse to work together than out of any love of the script or the story.
In fact, 'The Good Liar' is so feebly written, so poorly plotted, and so drearily directed that it never once capitalises on what Mirren and McKellen are capable. Although McKellen has worked with Bill Condon on numerous occasions, most notably in 'Gods & Monsters', the partnership is clearly running dry if this is what they're at now. Likewise, the supporting cast of Russel Tovey, Jim Carter and Mark Lewis Jones fail to make any kind of dent on the proceedings.
The script and plot may take its nods from something like Patricia Highsmith, but it has absolutely none of the subtlety or charms, nor is it remotely smart enough to pull off the kind of twists it's attempting here. In fact, the final act is done in such a clumsy and poorly thought-out way that it just robs 'The Good Liar' of any hope of redeeming itself. In the hands of another director and another screenwriter, there might have been something close to trashy enjoyment. Sadly, 'The Good Liar' isn't bad enough to be fun, and isn't good enough to warrant your attention. What's left is a missed opportunity and a squandered cast.