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The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

Millionaire financier Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) likes the finer things in life, but he finds himself most attracted to the things that money can't buy. In order to give his buttoned-down life some zest, he often seeks out thrills racing his catamaran, flying his glider, and even making $100,000 golf bets. But his greatest passion is art, which is why Crown is perhaps the foremost art thief in the world, cleverly stealing a priceless Monet from a New York museum in the midst of a crowd and several security guards. However, when Catherine Banning (Rene Russo), an insurance investigator, determines that Crown is the culprit, she lets him know she's on his trail. In turn, he decides to romance her for the sake of even more excitement. Being that 1999's The Thomas Crown Affair is a remake of the 1968 film starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, it seems that director John McTiernan and screenwriter Leslie Dixon (along with Brosnan, who produced) were hedging their bets — why else would we need a few coy nude scenes and a steamy sex sequence that humps its way up a staircase, resulting in the requisite sweeping of objects from a table to create a clear space for horizontal copulation? The ferocious love-making might have been a ploy to get people into theaters, but, while fun, it was largely unnecessary. Unlike most remakes of the past twenty years, McTiernan's Thomas Crown is actually superior to Norman Jewison's original, and for a few reasons. First, while Jewison's split-screen aesthetics may have seemed avant garde back in the '60s, the technique never worked its way into the commonplace language of cinema, making Jewison's multi-frames today seem more like a director's conceit than progressive filmmaking. Secondly, while McQueen and Dunaway were attractive leads, the over-40 Brosnan and Russo are more than up to the task, oozing charisma and sexually charged energy in virtually every scene. And while McTiernan has made better films in the past (Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October), his instincts for fast-paced action give the heist sequences an added punch. Give this one a spin when you're in the mood for some slick entertainment in a candy-coated shell. Also starring Denis Leary and Faye Dunaway in a brief (and unnecessary) cameo role. Good transfer, DD 5.1, audio commentary with McTiernan, trailer.
—JJB



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