Michael Mann's meticulous portrait of a professional burglar in crisis is thoroughly riveting in its dedication to character. Like all Mann films, Thief is painstakingly authentic in detail. Burglaries are depicted in clear, simple film strokes. The equipment used for the break-ins and safecracking look made for the job. And Mann's camera captures the intensity with internal clarity.
Ex-con Frank, schooled in the art of
safecracking in prison, has been building a successful bankroll through a series of burglaries
around Chicago. Frank's front is a used car lot where bucks are channeled into Buicks and a bar
that doubles as a convenient hangout and investment. Frank's life develops more complications than
he's bargained for when he meets Jessie behind the cash register in a diner. Like everything Frank
does, he romancing is decisive. At the same time, a successful diamond heist sucks him into
involvement with a ring of professional crooks led by Leo. Frank is a bomb ready to go off and Leo
may just be the fuse.
There are two hang-ups on my Sony player on
Thief, on chapter 3 at 4.25 and chapter 25 at 1.43. Each time the DVD freezes slightly and
then skips momentarily. On a Toshiba 3006, the disc had smooth sailing. Aside from that, Thief
is a very good DVD. The night sequences are dazzling. Check out Frank's initial meeting with Leo.
It's reference night material: deep, endless blacks, small discernible details, city lights
focused. The explosions are amazingly controlled efforts of transfer and compression and the sparks
flying from a thermal lance are brilliant. There are some NTSC artifacts such as aliasing. I noted
a slight horizontal jitter in a few scenes, probably NTSC related. While the Thief DVD is
from the same source as the laser, the images on the small disc are much better, benefiting from
the enhanced detail range of DVD. The Tangerine Dream score sounds terrific on this new Dolby
Digital 5:1 mix. Ambient detail is outstanding and directional.
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