‘The Misfits’ movie review: Pierce Brosnan hams it up in heist movie misfire

A ragtag group of thieves is recruited to perform a charity heist in The Misfits, a competently-made new caper film from director Renny Harlin starring an enigmatic and effortlessly charismatic Pierce Brosnan in the lead. This sloppily-written international co-production is little more than a paycheck for director and star, but both are giving it their all here.

The Misfits opens with Nick Cannon delivering some motormouthed narration over a montage that tries to establish the titular band of thieves in as little time as possible: there’s Cannon’s Ringo, a master of stereotypical disguise, tough gal Violet (Jaime Chung), and explosive expert Wick (Mike Angelo). They all work together to pull benevolent heists for rich mystery investor The Prince (Rami Jaber).

They are The Misfits, a group of criminals united by a Robin Hood complex to commit crimes against criminals who otherwise go unchecked, and in doing so hey add a little good back into the world. If they happen to come away with millions of dollars after sticking it to the bad guy, well, they donate it to your charity of choice.

And we don’t care about The Misfits one bit, partly because of that utterly bland do-gooder premise, and partly because we learn nothing about them after the ten-minute opening montage.

But that’s all right, because some other pieces of The Misfits help to balance things out.

Primary among those pieces is Brosnan as Richard Pace, an elite grifter and conman who has made a career out of thieving for his own benefit and now finds himself on the run from shady businessman and correctional facility entrepreneur Schultz (Tim Roth) in Abu Dhabi. And he’s also a vital component of The Misfits’ latest heist, conveniently in the fictional neighboring country of Jazeristan.

Richard is as uninterested in The Misfits as we are, but he’s blackmailed into joining their team primarily due to the involvement of Hope Pace (Hermione Corfield), the daughter he abandoned long ago and now has the chance to reconnect with and make things right.

Once Brosnan enters the picture, he steals The Misfits right away from the titular supporting players, to the great benefit of anyone still watching. Brosnan’s effortless charm is a few notches above his co-stars, and reminds us of a time when he made elegant Grade-A thrillers along similar lines like The Thomas Crown Affair. The Misfits is a ragtag B-movie through-and-through, but Brosnan doesn’t phone it in; ditto Roth, who hams it up appropriately to make a good nemesis.

The Misfits was directed by Renny Harlin, once a big name in 90s action movies; like Brosnan, Harlin adds some flair and puts the movie together with the kind of feel for tension and pacing that we might not otherwise expect in a film of this caliber. A climactic heist sequence set in a maximum security prison is genuinely exciting, and the one such sequence in The Misfits that really works.

Unfortunately, just about everything else in The Misfits falls flat, and the film really sags whenever Brosnan isn’t around and the titular crew has to pick up the slack. The screenplay for the film is credited to Kurt Wimmer, who previously wrote the Brosnan-starring Thomas Crown Affair and made the wonderful sci-fi flick Equilibrium, and Robert Henny.

Czech filmmaker Petr Jákl is credited as executive producer on The Misfits. Jákl’s passion project Medieval, a Jan Žižka biopic starring Ben Foster and Michael Caine that was reported to be the most expensive Czech film ever made, has yet to be released after filming commenced three years ago.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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