HollywoodChicago.com RSS   Facebook   HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter   Free Giveaway E-mail   

Blu-ray Review: Neon Brilliance of Michael Mann’s Influential ‘Thief’

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
Average: 5 (3 votes)

Michael Mann’s “Thief” is a crime movie that’s more about the criminal than his illegal acts. It’s about a man who has been torn down to nothing who slowly puts pieces back into his life, like a love affair and a family, only to learn that he has to give all of them up for his own safety. It’s a fascinating film, stunning in its technical acumen and with stellar performances from James Caan, Tuesday Weld, and Robert Prosky (making his film debut). It’s also a great inclusion in The Criterion Collection, perfectly remastered and with some interesting interview insights.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

What is “Thief”? Like most Michael Mann films, it’s hard to pin down into a genre. Yes, there are traditional elements of the crime film and even some degree of noir but it’s so distinctly character driven that it transcends the cliches of its genre. Who is Frank (Caan)? He’s a jewel thief but he makes clear both to his new employer (Prosky) and his love (Weld) that he is not attached to anything or anyone. He goes on his own. He is a loner and “Thief” actually has thematic echoes of the Western more than a noir or crime flick.

Mann’s technical skill, which is practically unmatched in his generation, is fully on display this early in his career. The rain, the light, the neon, the flash of gunfire, the explosions & the blood — no one shoots a crime flick like Michael Mann. And yet the scene of the film, and arguably his career, is the diner scene about half an hour in. Jimmy Caan and Tuesday Weld are given about ten minutes to converse, to tell their back stories, and to fully ground these characters in ways that we don’t often get in literature, much less film. It’s one of my favorite scenes of all time.

And Caan says in the commentary track he shared with Mann that it’s his favorite scene of his career before the two gentlemen essentially go silent to watch it. The commentary track is strong but it was recorded two decades ago. More current are the interview special features, including new ones with Mann, Caan, and Tangerine Dream. Caan says he’s most proud of two or three pictures and “Thief” is one of ‘em. You can’t blame him.

Thief will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 14, 2014
Thief will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 14, 2014
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

Synopsis:
The contemporary American auteur Michael Mann burst out of the gate, his bold artistic sensibility fully formed with Thief, his first debut feature. James Caan stars, in one of his most riveting performances, as a no-nonsense ex-con safecracker planning to leave the criminal world behind after one final diamond heist, but discovering that escape is not as simple as he hoped. Finding hypnotic beauty in neon and rain-slick streets, sparks and steel, Thief effortlessly established the moody stylishness and tactile approach to action that would define such later iconic entertainments from Mann as Miami Vice, Manhunter, and Heat.

Special Features:
o Audio Commentary Featuring Mann and Actor James Caan
o New Interviews With Mann, Caan, and Johannes Schmoelling Of The Band Tangerine Dream, Which Contributed The Film’s Soundtrack
o Trailer
o Booklet Featuring An Essay By Critic Nick James

“Thief” stars James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, James Belushi, and Robert Prosky. It was written and directed by Michael Mann. It will be released on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD on January 14, 2014.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

T.S.'s picture

A must own

One of my all-time favorite movies. This is something I want to get for my birthday in March.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Hot stories on the Web


User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing

TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox

    CHICAGO - Look past the cheesy carbs and b-boy poses, this shiny mo-cap reboot of cartoon juggernaut “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers slick entertainment that makes for a welcome surprise for middle school fare. Proving that executive producer Michael Bay has both grown up but it still frightfully in tune with what jazzes teens, this surprise box office hit is indeed a nice slice of a blockbuster spectacle, whether or not a viewer cares about the turtles or not.

  • HoliDaze Front

    CHICAGO – Need a break from the noise of the holidays? Step Up Productions, – in residence at Chicago Dramatists Theater – present “HoliDaze,” a collection of six one-act plays, all dealing with the nature and nurture of the season. The showcase runs through December 21st, 2014.

Advertisement


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter

archive

HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions
tracker