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on 3 February 2015
Michael Mann's feature film debut is a neon drenched noir that showcases the usual plot threads of the genre, outlaws treading the fine line between professionalism and survival that plays host to key set pieces cumulates in a tragic and bleak conclusion (in this case being safe break ins using modified power tools that makes the viewer marvel at the ingenuity and the method of use and a finale that will leave audiences applauding but divided on whether it's a happy ending or not) Like most neon noirs Thief is an exercise of style and cinematic craftsmanship, and with Michael Mann at the helm Thief goes that extra mile depicting the cynical world the antihero inhabits. Backed up by a career best performance by Caan, whose performance tries to balance style with characterisation, and a synthesized Tangerine Dream score that will long stick out (it's a major shame that an official soundtrack containing all the music hasn't been released) Overall Thief is a must see for any film fan and a vital purchase for Mann fans.

As for the blu ray. Let's get the obvious out of the way first; if you own a copy of Thief on DVD, then bin it (or use it as a coaster) because Thief is a marvel on blu-ray. Having previously owned the Criterion edition which had a 4K resolution remaster that was breathtaking in picture and sound, I can safely say that the Arrow edition uses the same print. The Director's Cut (which is on disc one) is equally as good as the Criterion edition. The blue colour filters are the same, and the sharpness in some of the scenes are identical with the Criterion edition. What does differ however is the evident grain on the Arrow version, although this is a very minor note and should not dissuade you from purchasing the Arrow edition. Sound is also the same, the dialogue was crisp, and the score was beautifully delivered. However where the two editions do differ is in extras, and if it's extras you want, than the Arrow edition is the one to go for. The main extra is the original theatrical cut that is included on the second disc; although there isn't much of a difference between the two cuts, the theatrical cut has not been given the same resotration treatment as the Director's Cut. The picture is okay and the sound (2.0 PCM only) is okay also. Informative and retrospective, Arrow have taken the time to issue extras that are both enlightening and entertaining. One such example is the 2014 interview with James Caan who talks about his experiences on the film. A similar extra exists on the Criterion edition, but it is way too short and barely tells anything at all. Not to mention the slipcase and changeable covers are a real treat.

Overall this is a must have for any film fan, and for those of you who, like me, imported the Criterion edition, then you sell it as quickly as you can and get this wonderful edition.
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on 30 July 2003
This has got to be one of the best crime / thriller movies ever made. James Caan is a superb actor, who when given the right role is in a class of his own. This film is his finest hour and he delivers a moving performance as the main character. Caan plays Frank who is an expert safe cracker with dreams of retiring and starting a family with his lady played by Tuesday Weld. He foolishly agrees to work for the mob headed by evil Leo (Robert Prosky), safecracking to order in the belief that after 2 or 3 big scores he can leave with a nice nest egg with which to start his family. When Frank decides it's time to move on and leave his life of crime behind him he soon discovers that it's extremely difficult to walk away when the big time crooks don't want to see their meal ticket leave. This film slowly builds up to a final, bloody showdown with the tension almost becoming unbearable as Frank realises that he is going to have to take drastic action if he truly wants out of his shady profession. Superb.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 September 2015
Thief is written and directed by Michael Mann, who adapts the screenplay form the novel "The Home Invaders" written by Frank Hohimer. It stars James Caan, Tuesday Weld, Robert Prosky, James Belushi and Willie Nelson. Music is by Tangerine Dream and cinematography by Donald Thorin.

Frank (Caan) is a tough ex-con and expert jewel thief. He's working his way out to a normal life, but after being lured to a big job for the mob, he finds plans on both sides severely altered.

For his first full length theatrical feature, Michael Mann announced himself to the film world with some distinction, and in the process showed everyone what style of film making makes him tick. Thief is a film of stylised grit, visually, thematically and narratively. Set and filmed in Chicago, Mann, aided by Thorin, shoots the story through pure neo-noir filters.

At nighttime it is all a beautifully neon drenched haze, where the streets shimmer with dampness, a dampness brought about by the rain and god knows what else! By day there's a sweaty hue, a feeling that the heat is well and truly on, that even in daylight Frank isn't safe, his dreams may be a touch too far to reach. And no matter what the scene or scenario, Tangerine Dream are laying over the top a throbbing pulse beat, it's like The Warriors trying to get back to Coney Island, the music has a sense of dread about it, that danger is at every corner.

This part of Chicago stinks, it's a vile and corrupt place. Dirty cops everywhere, underworld criminals ruling the roost - Hell! You can even buy a baby if you want one. Is it any wonder that Frank just wants to settle down with a wife and child, to walk barefooted in the sea, to have domesticity? But Frank, as smart, tough and savvy as he is, seems to thrive on the edge of things, with Mann giving him earthy and honest dialogue to engage us with, marking him out as an identifiable everyman protagonist who just happens to be an exceptional thief.

Mann's attention to detail is on show straight away, none more so than with the two key safe cracking jobs that are undertaken. Using genuine jewel thieves as technical advisers on the film, these sequences ooze realism, from the tools used, the pre-planning and the execution of the takes, it smacks of reality and does justice to the genuine feel of the characterisations brought alive by the superb cast. And finally Mann delivers a finale of ambiguity, a noir shaded piece of abruptness, an ending that perfectly fits the whole production. 9/10
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on 12 September 2001
This is Michael Mann's first effort, and also one of his best. James Caan is excellent as the hardened thief that does not give in to anyone. The "you have to be willing to walk out on everything in 60 seconds" theme will be used by Mann in other movies (notably "Heat"). The acting is good all around and so is the soundtrack by TAngerine Dream. Definitely one for the must watch list
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 October 2015
Thief is a great release from Arrow and Michael Mann's first theatrical release.

The Blu-ray is stunning it gets a 5/5, and the sound is very nice, which is in 5.1 DTS.

The release comes with loads of bonus features, a revisable cover and a nice little booklet.
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on 8 August 2015
First or second film by Michael Mann, it includes all his best qualities, although I don't think it's his best one: a great use of sound (not just music) and silence, almost unreal mis-en-scene of the environment, and still being realistic, and great direction of actors (James Caan gives one of his best performance ever). It's bitter, dry, abstract sometimes. I don't like his use of music that much (maybe Manhunter, INsider and Heat were the only one where music was not cheap or overwhelming, during a scene). Blu ray transfer is quite impressing and you forgive some scenes were they obviously could not correct some grainy dark shots.
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on 2 April 2016
I was worried that Caan would be synonymous with his character from 'The Godfather' but he managed to play a decent role. I found the scenes where they used the 'burn bars' incredibly tense! There are lots of parallels with 'Heat' and it's easy to see just what Mann was able to do was able to do with a bigger budget.
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The style of presentation of this new edition of Michael Mann's first cinema release "Thief" pays homage to later films that it has influenced, such as Drive [DVD] and is a hint that now is a good time to revisit this 34 year old crime movie.

The film itself stands the test of time very well indeed. This earliest of Mann's cinematic works is less glamourized than his later films like Heat [DVD] [1995] although in a lot of ways it could be considered the prototype of that film. There are parallels with James Caan's Frank and De Niro's Neil McCauley in that they are both perfectionist master criminals. "Thief" has a much earthier, almost depressing feel. There are a lot of scenes shot in the rain and there are mainly only bad guys and badder guys - though there is a sympathetic side to Frank which is highlighted in this new version, which has a short extra scene in which he talks to a fisherman on his way to work. "Thief" isn't Michael Mann's best film, but it is still very good and hints at the greatness to come.

I am bit dubious of Blu-ray versions of films that were not shot in high def in the first place, since surely you can't get high def without going back and re-shooting the film? This remaster of Thief isn't bad however. The Blu-ray menu perhaps gives a false impression, as it looks very cool indeed but the graphics of the actual feature sadly, don't quite compare. I wouldn't say rush out to buy it if you have the DVD already but I would say this is the version to buy if you don't already have it (or you are interested in seeing the extras). Of course it is not just the vision that Blu-ray improves, but also the sound - which is potentially significant here due to the fact that this was the first of Mann's films to feature a soundtrack by Tangerine Dream which the group released as an album in its own right. In fact though, whilst the sound is fine, it is true to say, I think, that despite TD's extensive use of electronics the production on their records was actually fairly basic. They let their (expensive) instruments do the talking, rather than employing much actual studio trickery. Consequently the Blu-ray does not deliver as much of an improvement on the sound quality as I might have hoped for. So again, it's not worth busting a gut to get hold of this reissue unless you are a major fan.

That said, this is a very nicely presented set with a booklet and reversible cover which features the artwork of the previous DVD cover (which is also very similar to the Tangerine Dream LP cover) and has clearly been done by people who care about the movie rather than someone trying to squeeze a few extra bucks out of some half-a***d Blu-ray transfer.

All in all this is the definitive edition of this film and hard to see how it could be improved upon further, unless maybe Tangerine Dream were to remaster the audio themselves but it is probably not worth a re-purchase unless you are a particularly big fan of Michael Mann.
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on 31 March 2012
Mann's first feature film abused and forgotten upon release then abused by MGM with a lousy non-anamorphic transfer in the early days of DVD. I have read some lukewarm reviews for this outstanding film's Optimum release. All untrue.. as this is struck from a new HD transfer.No it's not perfect, no it's not the director's cut which omits 4 minutes not crucial but detail and colors pop. This is a bare bones release, film only with the original 2 channel dolby stereo track heard in theaters back in 1981. All in all this is a must for the transfer alone.
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on 31 August 2015
This fine early effort from the masterful Michael Mann perfectly showcases his talents for creating a grimy yet neon filled urban crime film. Many of Manns directorial styles can be seen here including a tense gun fight to close the film. Thief is the blueprint to Heat.

James Cann is superb in arguably one of his most engaging and dramatic roles. He is easy to follow and although his motives and actions can be questionable he makes the audience support him.

The landscape drips in neon colours and the pulsing 80's soundtrack perfectly encaptures the soul of this film. For any Michael Mann fan this is simply a must see.
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