Directed by: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Written by: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Michael Gilio, Chris McKay
Starring: Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Sophia Lillis, Hugh Grant
Released: March 30, 2023
Grade: B+

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Amongst Thieves

I realise that most decisions are financially driven but when it comes to remakes and reboots, I’ve always thought it best to redo a stinker as opposed to a big hit.  It’s hard to improve on (near) perfection so why not start with a much lower benchmark?  That is certainly the case with Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves.  The 2000 movie was a critical and box-office failure (it made my worst 10 list that year) and it was followed by two direct-to-DVD releases which have been largely forgotten.

Going against the Golem effect, a theory that lower expectations leads to lower results, I’m happy to say Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Amongst Thieves is an entertaining action-adventure which confirms this franchise has a pulse.  It will clearly appeal to fans of the popular role-playing game, first published in 1974, but those new to the material can enjoy it in equal measure.  It works because (1) the tone is extremely light and it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and (2) the quality cast is fully aware of this.

Two Hollywood stars headline the group of heroes.  Chris Pine (Wonder Woman) plays a widowed father who has escaped from prison and is on a mission to locate a magical tablet that can reincarnate his late wife.  Michelle Rodriquez (The Fast and the Furious) plays a tough, no-nonsense barbarian who is rarely on the losing end of battle.  Rounding out the “good guys” are an experienced spellcaster (Page), a glitchy sorcerer (Smith), and a shape-shifting druid (Lillis).

Fresh from his memorable performance in Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, Hugh Grant (About a Boy) effortlessly steps into the shoes of the scheming villain.  He creates the film’s most interesting character – a power-hungry, wealth-grabbing swindler who can sweet talk his way out of any difficult situation.  He’s sneakily taken control of the kingdom and, despite what the people of Neverwinter may think, he’s not the least bit interested in his citizens’ wellbeing.  The role is a perfect fit for Grant who is both humorous and cunning.

It’s the one-liners which make this a winner, but the action isn’t too bad either.  There’s a Hunger Games style competition towards the end which makes great use of a labyrinth and some nasty critters.  There’s another scene in an underground cavern which gives off Indiana Jones-type vibes.  The directing duo of Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Game Night) have proven themselves in holding our attention for the 134-minute running time.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Amongst Thieves will surprise many… in a positive way.