'Good Liar' reviews: Critics call Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen's thriller 'underwhelming'

Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY

Critics are telling the hard truth about the film "Good Liar."

Ian McKellen stars as Roy Courtnay, a charming career con artist who has his eyes set on his next target: Gullible, wealthy widow Betty McLeish, played by Helen Mirren. 

Most critics, however, say the crime thriller's plot was "clunky" and "underwhelming," despite the best efforts from the British acting legends. ("Good Liar" has a Metacritic rating of 54 out of 100 and is listed as 63% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes as of Friday evening.) 

New York Times' Ben Kenigsberg says "the real good liar is whoever convinced Mirren and McKellen to class up such thin and arbitrary material."

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The Hollywood Reporter's Jon Frosch says the film, which is based off Nicholas Searle’s 2016 novel, proves "that not every halfway-decent book should be made into a movie."

"'The Good Liar’s sophistication is nothing if not skin-deep. For all its nasty twists and turns, its fake-outs and flashbacks and cheekily preposterous pile-up of double-crosses, this story of an elderly con man and the wealthy widow he targets feels fatally devoid of danger," he adds."'The Good Liar' is a work of skill but little spark."

Though the movie has a plot twist that "dropped out of the sky and landed on your head," Rolling Stone's David Fear said Mirren and McKellen acted "beautifully despite the material."

"Yes, you would watch these two in virtually anything. You just wish it wasn’t this," he writes. "They deserve something sturdier and far less head-slappingly preposterous, and that’s the truth."

He continued: "The real question is: Are you willing to endure all of that random swerving for the simple pleasure of these performers’ company?"

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On the other hand, the unpredictable and erratic nature of the film's plot is what the New York Post's Johnny Oleksinski enjoyed the most. 

"The fun of 'The Good Liar' is that, just when you think you’ve got a proper handle on what’s going on, your reality is completely shattered. A few times," he says.  

"The Good Liar" hit U.S. theaters Friday following U.K.'s premiere last week.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Good Liar' reviews: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen's film underwhelming