Michael Mann proves to be a potent triple threat as exec producer-director-writer on Thief. Although there are points where he gets bogged down in the technical aspects of thievery, the film is a slick Chicago crime-drama with a well-developed sense of pathos running throughout. James Caan comes up with a particularly convincing portrait of the central figure and superior soundtrack from Tangerine Dream adds immeasurably to the action.
Mann, who won awards for his work on the critically acclaimed telefilm, The Jericho Mile, has woven a fine story around a highly honorable man who just happens to be an expert thief with an extensive prison record. Caan plays the thief, a victim of an unfortunate childhood who lands in jail and is hardened with his unsavory environment, with an incredible vulnerability.
In terms of story, Caan is a highly successful crook who takes great pains to maintain his professional independence. Against his better judgment he gives in to ‘godfather’ type Robert Prosky’s request to join forces, mostly in an effort to provide personal stability.
The basic story centers on Caan’s work, which becomes increasingly complicated by his new association. Oddly enough, Mann’s major flaw is being a bit too meticulous in delineating the process Caan must go through in order to make a big score.
[A Special Directorector’s ed ition, trimming some scenes and adding others, was released on homevideo in 1995. Running time is also 122 mins.]