Thief (1981)


A freelance professional thief accepts one last contract from the mob so he can retire with his new family.

Michael Mann’s Hollywood debut is a neo-Noir that displays a lot of the potential he would come to realise later in his career. He makes great use of light and reflective surfaces to create a nocturnal cityscape that makes for a beautiful backdrop to the story and this combined with the synth-rock soundtrack by Tangerine Dream was an obvious influence on Nicolas Winding Refn when he made Drive. The audio-visual aspect to the film is a double-edged sword however, as the score becomes overly intrusive in places and the style can sometimes get in the way of the substance. The plot is also rather generic and James Caan’s bullish interpretation of the leading character makes him rather difficult to bond with and I found the ending rather anticlimactic.

Because of these issues Thief is not without its flaws, but its attractive 1980’s visuals make for an appealing mix of Film Noir homage and retro styling that has not been without influence in the evolution of the modern heist movie.



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