Dungeons And Dragons Honor Among Thieves Review: Perfectly Captures The Playing Experience, For Better And Worse

Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves struggles with pacing issues but ends up being a rousing crowd-pleaser that appeals to everyone.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

dungeons & dragons

In a world where playing Dungeons and Dragons is no longer limited to freaks and geeks but is instead enjoyed by over 13 million people in the United States alone, with even more than that listening to actual play podcasts like Critical Role, The Adventure Zone, and Not Another DnD Podcast, it’s fitting that a movie has finally captured what a real role-playing campaign is like. Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves takes the chaos and ad-hoc storytelling of playing a game with friends and condenses it into just over two hours. The movie’s greatest strength is its greatest weakness; those who squeal at seeing Icewind Dale will love it, while those who don’t know the significance of Elminister will enjoy a fantasy Ocean’s Eleven.


Honor Among Thieves spends its first third introducing us to characters while lampshading the inclusion of their backstories and motivations. From Edgin the Bard (Chris Pine) and Holga the Barbarian (Michelle Rodriguez) to the con-man Forge (Hugh Grant) and Simon the Sorcerer (Justice Smith), within 20 minutes, we know how they got to the present situation, the sidequest that has to be completed before the main heist, and the character flaws that have to be overcome along the way. Directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley use a familiar storytelling rhythm similar to Session zero when starting a campaign, or the first part of Suicide Squad for those that haven’t played Dungeons and Dragons, and while it’s fun, it starts to drag.

Edgin and Holga need to get the band of thieves back together to get revenge against Forge and Sofina the Wizard (Daisy Head) two years after being betrayed on a job gone wrong. They recruit Simon and then Simon’s ex-girlfriend Doric the Tiefling Druid (Sophia Lillis), then have to complete a sidequest for an artifact required to complete the heist, leading to the “meet a character, scene of exposition, meet a character, more exposition” rhythm. By the time Xenk the Paladin (Rege-Jean Page) finishes his exposition, the film finally kicks into a higher gear, and from then on, it’s one inventive scene after the other, taking full advantage of the Dungeons and Dragons setting.

Justice Smith in Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Justice Smith’s Simon steals every scene he’s in with his charming incompetence causing the audience to root for him, and it makes for the best scene in the movie. The confident and capable Xenk is explaining a puzzle that has to be solved when Simon undercuts him. This perfectly captures the experience of a Dungeon Master (DM), proud of a puzzle they devised, getting exasperated when the players use their wits to find a solution that the DM never thought of.

Considering the reaction among fans following the trailer, including a scene where Edgin fumbles asking five questions to a corpse, it would be understandable for everyone to worry that the best scenes were already spoiled. Rest assured, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves did not show its hand ahead of time, and while there are no twists or turns to the plot, by the time the heist is finally on, the audience is swept up in the ragtag crew’s outrageous series of plans that all go horribly wrong.

Chris Pine and Michelle Rodrigeuz do the heavy dramatic acting, and each does their best with the material, but at the end of the day, it’s a Dungeons and Dragons campaign on the big screen. Hugh Grant and Justice Smith understand the assignment and chew the scenery at every moment, while Rege-Jean Page provides the straight man that lets the rest of the insanity bounce right off of him. By the time the credits roll, the audience has run through a gamut of emotions with crowd-pleasing moments for those that have never experienced the joy of rolling a 20-sided die while trying to calculate THAC0.

For those that play Dungeons and Dragons on a regular basis, the film is well-worth seeing just for the fan service included; from Baldur’s Gate to Neverwinter, displacer beasts to gelatinous cubes, noted gamers Goldstein and Daley knew how to play the setting’s greatest hits. In fact, the worst thing to come out of the movie for role-players is now there will be someone in every play group who thinks Druids are overpowered.

Despite the pacing issues getting started, the film’s back half is a crowd-pleaser and a delightful throwback to a time of stand-alone fantasy films that weren’t concerned with launching the next big blockbuster franchise. As a one-and-done story, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is a light-hearted romp through Faerun that requires no prior knowledge but for experienced players, it’s close to the Forgotten Realms movie you’ve always dreamed of.