BLU-RAY REVIEW: THIEF / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: MICHAEL MANN / SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL MANN / STARRING: JAMES CAAN, TUESDAY WELD, WILLIE NELSON, JAMES BELUSHI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Michael Mann has had a patchy few years in the post-Heat wilderness. The Insider, Collateral, Miami Vice and Public Enemies were all solid films, but they weren’t classic Mann, not in the way that Heat or Manhunter were or indeed Thief is.
It’s tough to pick a definitive Mann film. Logic would dictate that Heat is the obvious choice, but there are two standout classics that are pretty strong contenders. The first is Manhunter, Mann’s foray into the world of Hannibal Lector (and one of this writer’s personal favourites), and the second is Thief, which finally gets a long overdue Blu-ray release.
Based on Frank Hohimer’s The Home Invaders, Thief tells the story of James Caan’s safe cracker and thief, who allows himself to be drawn into a job working for the mob as a way to help him start a normal life and family. Of course, the mob being the mob, it’s never that simple.
This is classic Mann, from the loving way Chicago is lit and shot (which looks stunning in this new transfer) to the Tangerine Dream soundtrack to a great scene set in a diner. The script is sharp and tight, allowing you time to get to know and care about the characters, without getting in the way of the story and moving the action forward.
On the performance side, this is very much Caan’s film and he turns in (arguably) his career best performance as Frank, a good man who does the wrong things for the right reasons. Caan plays every element of the character perfectly, conveying both the confident swagger of a man who knows his business and what he wants and the emotion of a man in love looking for normality in life by getting deeper into a life of crime.
This being an Arrow release, the film comes packed with extras, including two versions of the film, the 2001 episode from The Directors series which focuses on Mann’s career (up to – at that time – Ali), a commentary, and two interviews with Caan (one from 1981 and one from 2014). Being Arrow you also get an accompanying booklet (not available at the time of review) containing an essay on the film.
Special Features: Audio commentary with Michael Mann and James Caan / The Directors: Michael Mann / Three featurettes / Trailer / Reversible sleeve / Illustrated booklet
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