Thief 1981

Thief

Critics Consensus

Thief is an invigorating cut of neon noir - proudly pulpy, steeped in authenticity, and powered by a swaggering James Caan at the peak of his charisma.

94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 31

81%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,230

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Movie Info

A highly skilled jewel thief, Frank (James Caan) longs to leave his dangerous trade and settle down with his girlfriend, Jessie (Tuesday Weld). Eager to make one last big score in order to begin living a legitimate life, Frank reluctantly associates with Leo (Robert Prosky), a powerful gangster. Unfortunately for Frank, Leo wants to keep him in his employ, resulting in a tense showdown when he finally tries to give up his criminal activities once and for all.

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Critic Reviews for Thief

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (29) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Thief

  • Mar 17, 2015
    Mann's feature debut is a gritty mass of machismo and kinetic energy, and James Caan turns in one of his greatest performances.
    Kase V Super Reviewer
  • Jan 23, 2014
    The youthful Mann uses James Caan to his full capacity in this introduction to his moody and hard hitting directors' style. A hidden gem.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 30, 2012
    Frank: Look, you wanna pinch me then pinch me... I'll be out in ten minutes. If not, GET THE FUCK OFF MY CAR!  "Tonight, his take home pay is $410,000... tax free." Michael Mann's debut, Thief, is a stylish and intelligent heist thriller. There's a lot of cool stuff going on in Thief. It's one of those crime classics that have been forgotten because of movies like Heat. Thief is a great film in its own right. Mann showed the success he would be right from the get go. The film doesn't mess around, and has one of the single coolest end sequences I have ever seen. I'll admit, the film did take a little while to suck me in, but once it did I was enamored by it.  Frank is a professional thief. He breaks into safes for diamonds and cash only. He's always wanted to retire to a normal life with a wife and kid. He thinks he has the chance when a crime boss asks him to join up for a big score. Frank thinks he can take the cash and settle down to a nice life. The boss has slightly different plans for Frank which may interfere with him getting exactly what he's always wanted.  The heist scenes are really good, and Mann doesn't pump up the cliché of fighting against a clock and the police like the normal heist film will do. Thief isn't your standard heist film at all. Standard heist films go through a formula normally leading up to the final heist scene which will pretty much end the movie. Not this one. There's a lot of time after the final heist, and the after effects are the best part of the movie hands down.  The acting is left in the capable hands of James Caan. He is at his best in Thief. He plays a stubborn criminal to perfection. His performance in this one may be my favorite single performance from him ever. He struts his criminal character around with a sense of anger and cool, that just makes you pay attention to every little detail of his performance.  This is kind of a forgotten film in the grand scheme of cinema, but it is one you should really seek out. It is loads better than 98% of the crime thrillers out there. It has an accomplished director(now) at the helm and a terrific actor in the lead. There isn't much not to like about it. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's a masterpiece or anything, but it is one that will surely blow you away. Well, well worth a watch.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • May 07, 2012
    Michael Mann's first theatrical film set the bar high for what would become a very illustrious career. The film is beautifully shot, well acted, stylistic, atmospheric, appropriately moody, and always engrossing. In short, it's what Michael Mann does best. You can see all of his tendencies on display here, and to great effect, save perhaps his sense of action, which he would later improve on drastically. On its own merits, Thief is a truly great film, a smart heist/crime drama, done in a fashion that would be imitated by many. It's not his masterpiece (Heat), but it's a must see for all Mann fans. 4.5/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer

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