Short Summary: A professional thief wants to settle down. Unfortunately, his skills are considered too invaluable for certain people to let go.
I am a bad movie fan and have not watched as many Michael Mann films as I probably should have. I saw Ali on a cruise in high school – though I can’t remember the film for the life of me – and I found Miami Vice to be one of the most underrated films in the last ten years, but that was it. A few months ago, I saw Heat and found it to be one of the best crime films ever, having it as my sixth favorite movie of all-time. It had awesome direction, intense atmosphere that justified its long length, and one of the greatest interplays between a pursuer and his target despite them only meeting twice in the entire film. Basically, it’s Monster for the movie world. Fans of that anime should definitely check it out.
But this isn’t a look at Heat. This is Thief, Mann’s first movie, which I finally got to seeing. Story-wise, this isn’t that different from most action films about a professional being unable to settle down. A large part of my love for the movie is really down to Mann’s direction. Thief has the same engrossing and grim atmosphere that characterizes most of what I’ve seen from the guy, and when you partner said atmosphere with the kind of crime story that the film goes for, you’ve got neo-noir like no other.
Not that the substance is something anybody can just do. A majority of the film’s charm also comes from James Caan’s performance as the main dude. He sells his role as a professional guy whilst handling the emotional stuff pretty damn well as he comes to the realization that a happy life just isn’t for him. But the real draw for me is the ending. I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say it’s bleak in all the right ways and basically elevated the entire thing into a new light.
There’s a few things in Thief that date it a bit, but it’s still well worth the watch. I recommend it unless you have some irrational bias towards neo-noir or something.