The Thomas Crown Affair (1999 Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I’m usually not a fan of re-makes, though on occasion, they do deliver. It’s often noted that the 2001 re-make of “Ocean’s Eleven” is far superior to the original starring Frank Sinatra and his crew. But for every movie like that there’s a “Planet of the Apes”, “The Getaway” or “Clash of the Titans”. Admittedly, the original “Thomas Crown Affair” was a bit before my time and it starred Steve McQueen who himself was a bit before my time. Still, I’m a fan of director John McTiernan who helmed “Die Hard” of all things, and I’ve always had somewhat of a fondness for Rene Russo. And as for the man himself, Mr. Thomas Crown, well while it may be true that Pierce Brosnan was born to play James Bond, this would be the other role that was as fit for him as a $3000 suit. However the challenge with a re-make is that you’re telling a story that people are already familiar with and can you sell them on it again? My response: yes. Yes you can.

Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) is a billionaire. Well, technically it never says, but the man owns a building in Manhattan and gambles $100,000 on the golf course, so we’ve got to assume he’s got money to burn. He’s an avid art-lover and spends countless hours gazing at paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As fate would have it, the museum in question is robbed of a priceless Monet by, well, Thomas Crown. He gets away with it and we then meet Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) who works for a Swiss insurance firm and is trying to figure out who done it before the insurers write a $100 million dollar check. Naturally there’s an attraction between Catherine and Thomas and the two start seeing one another. The cat and mouse game works on a variety of levels as she quickly figures out that he’s the culprit. She’s also assisting the NYPD led by disgruntled Det. Michael McCann (Dennis Leary) who’s a bit more serious that you might think. Will Catherine get her man or will the rich simply get richer?

Ok, I’ll come right out and admit it and say that “The Thomas Crown Affair” isn’t the best movie in the world but it’s entertaining. I envy the lifestyle that those like Thomas Crown have (Donald Trump comes to mind). But money can’t buy everything, especially happiness. Brosnan and Russo have great on-screen chemistry and it certainly doesn’t hurt matters that Russo spends a majority of the second act without a top! The allure with a film like this is that the audience is in on the crime while the characters try and figure out what’s what. While it’s a far cry from the original “The Thomas Crown Affair” doesn’t disappoint and even a decade later, doesn’t feel the least bit dated. If you like heist films then this is one that’s worth checking out and Brosnan is in fine form, for sure.

Video: How does it look?

MGM/Fox has presented this Blu-ray in a 2.35:1 AVC HD transfer that started off looking a bit rough, but got better as the film progressed. The movie to me seemed a bit on the dark side, though there are some rather choice scenes that really take advantage of the HD aspect of things. Flesh tones seem a bit on the saturated side, with Brosnan’s sun-drenched face looking a bit muddy. Detail is bumped up from the standard DVD release and if you’re an art fan (I’m not), then you do get a few glances at some pretty high-priced paintings. Overall, it’s an improvement over the DVD but not much of one.

Audio: How does it sound?

One thing that’s really stood out to me in regards to this film is the audio. We get a new DTS HD Master Audio track that really does showcase all the film has to offer. McTiernan has gone for a very upbeat, jazzy score that really sets the tone for the movie. We get several classic R & B tidbits here and there and culminate with Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” during the final scene and it sounds amazing (the song itself is near eight minutes long). Dialogue is very crisp and clear as well. Surrounds are used rather sparingly, but that’s of no consequence as the front stage is more than powerful enough for the whole film. A nice effort here and an improvement over the standard DVD offering.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There are some supplements on this Blu-ray…sort of. This Blu-ray is bundled with the standard DVD which contains an audio commentary by director John McTiernan. Now this is great but it falls short in that you have to put the standard DVD in to listen to it (which defeats the purpose of owning the Blu-ray) and it’s the same commentary that came out with the original DVD a decade ago. I’d like to think that McTiernan, Russo and Brosnan could have taken a few hours out of their days and recorded a new track but I guess not. So yes, you do get a commentary but you have to go digging for it. No other supplements have been included.

Disc Scores