Thief - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Thief Reviews

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April 27, 2019
I've never really been a great fan of Caan, perhaps because directors never allow him a fully rounded character to immerse himself in. Sure he was good as Sonny in the Godfather, marginally funny in Freebie & the Bean, and memorable in Misery. But we all know he is capable of much much more than primarily playing second fiddle.

I think Mike Mann realised this too, and gave him Thief - an excellent film with Caan playing the part of a diamond thief wanting out of a world of crime and into a world of families, daily chores & appreciating those that are close to you.

So he accepts one more job from the local Mr Big, Leo (Bob Prosky, of Hill Street Blues fame). Leo is so influential he can offer Caan anything even a baby for Jessie(Tuesday Weld) and himself.

The score goes down and Caan thinks he's free, but Leo wants more.....

A richly stylish film set on the streets of Chicago, married superbly by a sparkling, industrial rock music score by German band, Tangerine Dream.

Caan is ably supported by a rather underplayed but decent performance from his pal, James Belushi. And the moving cameo from Willie Nelson is an added bonus, a nice touch from Mann who shows us the other side of Caan's hardnosed & grim character.
½ April 3, 2019
Caan plays a psychopathic sociopath with no endearing qualities and does it very well. It's a good film whichy was remade a couple of times such as Parker and Payback.
½ December 4, 2018
The first brick in Michael Mann's solid career.
½ December 3, 2018
Frank (James Caan) is a jewel thief and ex-convict who has a set structure to his life. With a pair of successful Chicago businesses (a bar and a car dealership) as fronts for his criminal enterprise, Frank sets out to fulfill the missing part of his life vision: a family with Jessie (Tuesday Weld), a cashier he has begun dating. After taking down a major diamond score, Frank gives the diamonds to his fence, Joe Gags. However, before Frank can collect his share, Gags is murdered for skimming from the mob collection money. Barry (James Belushi), Frank's friend and associate making the pick-up, discovers that a plating company executive Gags was working for, Attaglia, is responsible for Gags' murder and stealing Frank's payoff. In a confrontation at Attaglia's plating company, Frank demands his money back. This leads to a meeting with Attaglia's employer Leo (Robert Prosky), a high-level fence and Chicago Outfit boss. Unknown to Frank, Leo has been receiving Frank's goods from Gags for some time. He admires Frank's eye for quality stolen goods and professionalism, and wants him working directly for him, offering Frank large profits. Their meeting is monitored from a distance by police surveillance. At first Frank is reluctant, not wanting the added exposure or complications. But later that night, conversation with Jessie changes his mind when she agrees to be part of his life, after he relates a tale of prison survival by way of a toughened mental attitude. Frank now agrees to do just one big score for Leo, telling Barry that this will be their last job. After being rejected at the state adoption agency, with Leo's help Frank is able to acquire a baby boy on the black market, whom he names David after his mentor, nicknamed Okla (Willie Nelson). After resisting a shakedown from a group of corrupt police detectives, and then subsequently ditching their surveillance, Frank and his crew are involved in a large-scale West Coast diamond heist organized by Leo. All goes well with Frank's "burn job" and he is expecting the agreed-upon sum of $830,000 for the unmounted stones of wholesale value $4 million. But when Frank returns from the job, Leo gives him less than $100,000. This is all that Frank will receive in cash according to Leo, who says he invested the rest of Frank's cut in shopping centers, an idea Frank had previously rejected. In addition, Leo sets up a Palm Beach score for Frank in six weeks without consulting him. Frank tells Leo that their deal is over and takes the cash as he leaves, demanding the rest of his money in 24 hours...

"Thief" is a 1981 American neo-noir crime film written, produced and directed by Michael Mann in his feature film debut. It is based on the 1975 novel "The Home Invaders: Confessions of a Cat Burglar" by Frank Hohime. The movie received widespread critical acclaim. Roger Ebert described Thief as "one of the most intelligent thrillers I've seen" and gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, writing that the film's only major flaw was a failure to develop the subplot featuring Willie Nelson's character more fully: "Willie has played the character so well that we wanted more."

Michael Mann´s feature debut film has been on my to see list for ages and ages. This stylised and slick heist thriller is a bit slowpaced and didn´t make a massive impact on me as I hoped. Yet, all the classic Mann trademarks (neon, wet pavements etc) are there and there´s something intriguing about Frank´s attempt to break free from his criminal past and present. "Thief" has a strong character development and I do like that Mann takes time for that. And I also like Mann´s excellent attention to details with for example the burglary tools. James Caan is truly great as Frank (tough guy with his heart on his sleeve) and the role is perfect for his charisma and style of acting. Loved Tangerine Dreams musical score. "Thief" is the beginning of something great that Mann later perfected with "Miami Vice" and films like the brilliant "Manhunter".

Trivia: The burglary tools used throughout the film (such as the hydraulic drill used in the opening sequence) were not props, but real tools which the actors were trained to use. The tools were supplied by real-life thieves who served as technical consultants on the film, principally John Santucci, who also portrayed Sergeant Urizzi on-screen.

A sixty thousand gallon water truck was used to keep the streets constantly wet.

Many real-life Chicago criminals and police officers served as advisors to director Michael Mann, and Mann cast many of them on-screen, often in contradictory roles (former Chicago police officers Dennis Farina and Nick Nickeas appear as criminal henchmen, while former professional thief John Santucci appears as a police officer).
½ October 4, 2018
Both slickly stylish and uncommonly realistic in its portrayal of a high-stakes heist's ins-and-outs, the movie is as cool as its main character-and yet just as flawed, zeroing in on the hyper-cool character of the master criminal but ignoring the fatalistic masculinity that undergirds the character's frigidity.
July 6, 2018
Caan is ruthless. Sensational!
May 7, 2018
Michael Mann's impressive debut 'Thief' just oozes coolness. From the opening scene, we immediately get a sense of what kind of a filmmaker Mann is going to be for the next 30 years plus. The film has got some typically great dialogue exchanges and many memorable moments sprinkled throughout what is a slightly overlong running time. The story itself is nothing that jumps out at you but, much like 'Drive' - of which this film has been compared to numerous times - it's more about the execution than the concept. James Caan is also really great here, as a man constantly on edge from a life of crime, who feels like he could just snap at any second. What with this and 'To Live and Die in L.A.', I feel like I'm seeing a lot of highly influential, yet relatively low concept films. Both have fantastic visual and auditory aesthetics, that just perfectly capture the 1980s, and both have influenced modern culture more than we care to admit. Not just films, but music and video games - this especially could have been a film adaptation of a GTA game some of the time - the music, aesthetic and plot are practically designed for it. Both of these movies are far more about mood and atmosphere than they are about story - but just because they're not some kind of deep, thoughtful character study or a meditation on the meaning of life, doesn't mean they are any less impressive. In many ways, I actually think they're more impressive, for the mark of a truly great film is one that manages to leave you with a distinct, unique feeling afterwards.
April 23, 2018
James Caan stars as the titular thief ... a man who has spent a decade of his life in prison, has learned how to excel at high-end theft, and is working very hard to make up for lost time and manufacture a normal life for himself. Two people turn up to contribute to that dream. He sets his sights on Tuesday Weld, a woman he barely knows, and after explaining his life and dream to her, she is on for the ride. Robert Prosky, a very well-connected fence, approaches him and asks him to work for him. Caan will lose some of his freedom, but the rewards will be greater and he can get the house and family he wants even quicker. Things do not work out as he planned, and he takes extremely radical action to assert his identity. Michael Mann completely emerges with his second film. The themes that are fully developed in "Heat" show up here ... as well as the precise attention to detail and the extreme glossy style. This film straddles the 1970's and the 1980's and has the virtues of the best films of both decades. It's an existential character study of an extremely well-drawn character and it's high high gloss with a pulsing electronic soundtrack from Tangerine Dream. This is Caan's best lead performance.
March 12, 2018
March 3, 2018
Great fun thriller to watch. Can is slick and stylish. A great fun watch.
½ September 23, 2017
Thief (1981) ??? 1/2 / ????
Knockout thriller about professional safe-cracker, on the verge of living a normal life, agrees to one final job. Superlative, intelligent character study (masterfully acted by James Caan) and drama, leads to a spellbinding finale. Fascinating synthesizer score by Tangerine Dream.
August 17, 2017
Boasting Michael Mann's signature, slick style, even this far back in his career, 'Thief' is a straightforward, no-messing-about type of film that knows exactly what it is right from the very beginning and doesn't waste time with anything that isn't relevant to the narrative. With a very simple plot that takes a good bit of time to reel you in, there was room and opportunity to inject a bit more conflict throughout, but at the end of the day, it is an entertaining thriller nonetheless and boasts a fantastic performance from James Caan, as well as a fitting and epic finale.
July 23, 2017
Exceptional movie about a professional thief who gets in deep with a local mob boss. The feel of this movie is very 70's which I adore so much. James Caan is exceptional in this role. One of my all time favorite movies.
July 23, 2017
Brillante thriller de la mano de Michael Mann, que va mucho más allá de una simple historia de ladrones.

Como era habitual en el Mann de la época, la fotografía de la cinta es excelente, y la banda sonora de la mano de Tangerine Dream es incluso mejor. No entiendo como no es más recordada.

El reparto esta pletórico (aunque no entiendo mucho la elección de Willie Nelson...), y eso que Caan es un actor que me cuesta cuando lo veo en versión original.

April 25, 2017
A now surprising first big work of Michael Mann. It's like a light version of "Heat" with a strong performance from James Caan. It had all elements and features Mann would explore and deepen further in his career culminating in "Heat", of course.
March 19, 2017
I recently had a chance to re-watch this gem with my wife who had never seen it. I saw it in it's original release and it's always been one of my favorites.

I was thrilled at how well this movie holds up. Tense, neo-noir... and the diner scene - which Caan himself has said is his best work - may be nine of the most 'real' minutes ever put on film.

The bulk of the film is classic late 70's, so expect dialog and character driven scenes. The climax of the film is pure 80's. Stunning violence and action.

This is also a tragedy, do don't expect a classic, Hollywood happy ending. This is a movie about people you can almost believe are real.
February 17, 2017
One of the greater Unexpectedly but anticipating movies. A great film, a truly an action film.
January 27, 2017
When i noticed that movie has been directed by Michael Mann, there was no more to think about..
½ January 6, 2017
Great cast. Enjoyed the professional thief angle of the film and the challenge of breaking into high security vaults. Felt the whole instant family and adoption angle felt a little forced as a subplot. Good finish. Michael Mann doesn't disappoint. Great use of soundtrack during the final shootout.
½ December 26, 2016
A movie about a great score, with a great score
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