The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) – Review

3 Stars

The Thomas Crown Affair is a slick and light-weight caper flick that has been brought to life under the sturdy direction of John McTiernan and anchored by Pierce Brosnan, playing a debonair playboy not far removed from 007. This is a remake of the 1968 film starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway (given a cameo role here), and it is an improvement on the source material. Updating the heist from a bank-job to a high-end Art Museum theft is a nice touch. The chemistry between the leads is good, better than McQueen and Dunaway, and the playful banter is intelligent.

Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) is the CEO of Crown Acquisitions but his method of acquiring and articles of possession are not legal. It happens that Mr. Crown is a devilishly charming rogue, a corporate master-mind, and an art thief of unparalleled talent and resources. Four Men are apprehended in the attempted theft of a priceless painting from the New York Museum. Did these men act alone or where they patsies for someone intent on using them as a distraction to steal a different painting? This is the theory of Independent insurance investigator Catherine Banning (Rene Russo), hired to retrieve the artwork. Crown doesn’t realize that Banning is every bit as ruthless, cunning and determined to find her man as he is determined to walk free. The pair face off in a cat and mouse game of deception, betrayals, romance and intense pressure.

The Thomas Crown Affair is to date the last good movie from director John McTiernan, the man responsible for some of the biggest action films of the last quarter of a century. His work following Crown is mystifying, the follow-up films, The 13th Warrior and Rollerball both rank amongst cinema’s most embarrassing follies. In watching this briskly paced, well-constructed adult thriller it is obvious the McTiernan’s hand is present in every scene balancing tone and tempo. As a side bar to Brosnan’s career in the post Bond world, The Thomas Crown Affair is one of his better efforts.

Director: John McTiernan
Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo, Denis Leary

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