Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a game adaptation with breathtaking action and a whole lot of heart. Come for Chris Pine and Regé-Jean Page, and stay for Michelle Rodriguez, who pulls everything together. This ensemble is so perfectly assembled, and it takes no trouble picturing desk jockeys and blue-collar workers banding together and looking to escape into their characters. This movie is not only a tribute to those who find comfort in the game, but it’s also an invitation to the uninitiated to discover something new.
What immediately stands out about this movie is its accessibility. While there’s a distinct feel that this is just a massive role-playing session, one doesn’t need to understand the intricacies of DnD to appreciate this fun adventure story. The movie brings together so many simple yet effective tropes, including a motley crew, an evil sorcerer, and a quest to retrieve a mythical object.
The performances are what stand out and elevate the story to another level. It’s so believable that DnD players would choose such attractive and dynamic alter egos to escape reality. The Big Bad, Hugh Grant’s Forge, is evidently based on a grounded, real-world villain of someone on this campaign. It’s so easy to imagine anyone in this group going up against a pencil-pushing boss willing to sell the souls of every employee to an evil witch. Each member of the group, regardless of their background, needs one another to defeat this banal evil.
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is also a terrific endorsement of Dungeons and Dragons itself. The story captures the teamwork that’s essential to making the game fun. As a non-player, this writer has been informed that there are several endearing nods to the game. This is an enticing way to invite the uninitiated into this universe. The stakes may be mythical, but they’re oddly personal. While the well-being of the characters may not be in question, it’s so comforting to see everyone come together when they need to.
The movie functions as a heist story, with silly stakes with a side of finding a family along the way. This balance is maintained throughout the movie. There are so many points at which the story could have gone completely off the rails. There was so much opportunity for everything to devolve into CGI fights and bright lights. However, everything always comes back to this misfit crew, how much they love each other and how much they need one another to survive and thrive.
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is just plain fun. This campaign is one that anyone would be fortunate enough to be a part of. The hope and optimism that underline the entire story are what give the movie its heart and soul. It may just inspire those who have never role-played as rogues and bards to give it a try. Within this expansive universe, anything is possible.
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves premiered at the 2023 SXSW Film and TV Festival and is in theatres now.