Thief

January 28, 2012 4 Min Read

Review by: Al Barnes

Plot: What’s it about?

If you look at the Internet DVD superstores, go beyond the main page which has the new releases. Even though some of those new releases will be older movies, most are fairly recent. There are hundreds of titles and you’ll find many familiar ones if you spend some time looking. Favorites you haven’t seen in years and that was probably on TV…time constraints and commercials…yuk! I ordered a few old titles that are some of my favorites; this movie is one of those. James Caan in the title role as Frank, a no nonsense diamond thief who learned his craft from his jailhouse mentor (Willie Nelson) and Jim Belushi (Red Heat) very early in his career as one of Caan’s crew. Robert Prosky recruits Caan for a couple of big time scores with the promise of his biggest payday ever. Frank also attracts the attention of a crooked cop (John Santucci) who wants a piece of his action to leave him alone. After the job is done he is short changed by Prosky, who tells him how its really going to work from now on, even threatening Frank’s woman (Tuesday Weld) and son…wrong approach!!! As the climax builds so does the trademark Michael Mann soundtrack and Caan shows he answers to no one.

Admittedly this is a “B” movie but it’s a really good one. Michael Mann…the creator of Miami Vice…has showed us some promising moments along the way to his best work…Heat, which Mann wrote and directed. One of Mann’s downfalls is his repeated use of the same actors in many of his projects such as Dennis Farino and John Santucci (loyalty is one thing, but)…until Heat that is (De Niro, Pacino, Kilmer and Voight…what director could ask for more?). Mann’s kept the Movie Making 101 “gimmicks” to minimum that help keep this one on track. Caan (Eraser) is great as the tough guy and easily carries the movie.

Video: How does it look?

Except for a couple of flaws in the quality of the original film stock this transfer was probably made from, I thought it looked great…after all it’s 18 years old. Mann’s films have always had good camera work and the safe cracking (burning) scene in the end is really well done. Much of the equipment and techniques shown in the movie are really used by crooks. John Santucci, who plays the crooked cop who is harassing Caan is a technical advisor on the film and clues them in to the ways of a thief. How does he know so much…listen and watch the feature length commentary, its more than just informative?

Audio: How does it sound?

I was surprised when I saw this was available in AC-3 and immediately added it to my shopping cart. Mann’s movies are heavily laden with music (a feature I like) and this release features an original soundtrack by Tangerine Dream…who also did Risky Business…so don’t be afraid to pump up the volume.

Supplements: What are the extras?

As soon as you open the case you get a great booklet with lots of info about the production…I love goodies. The feature length commentary has Mann and Caan talking as if they’re having a beer in your living room telling you about how they made the movie…very informal…great touch. You also have a trailer and extra footage, definitely better than most.

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