THIEF (1981) – Arrow Blu-Ray Review

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Thief (1981)
Directed by Michael Mann
Available from Amazon

Frank is a master safecracker. If there’s cash or diamonds to be stolen, Frank is the man to go to. After years of working freelance, he’s presented with a deal to work directly for the local mafia. With a promise of mega bucks, police protection, prior intel into the scores and a home for his family, Frank decides to take them up on their offer with the plan to leave after a couple of jobs. Unfortunately for Frank, the mafia have other ideas.

Michael Mann’s debut feature film THIEF is a slick, noir crime drama fronted by cool-as-ice James Caan as professional thief, Frank. Running a used car sales lot by day, Frank makes his real money at night with the help of phone tapper best friend Barry (James Belushi). Longing to start a family and have a fresh start with his new wife Jessie (Tuesday Weld), he plans to make enough money with the mafia then leave the business for good. Only the mafia won’t let go of their prized cow until they’ve milked it dry…

Though THIEF is showing its age slightly, its old-school style and mentality is refreshing to watch. It’s true that these types of films aren’t made anymore, and if they were, they sure wouldn’t look this good, especially for a debut feature film. James Caan is perfect in the role of Frank with solid supporting performances from James Belushi, Tuesday Weld, Robert Prosky as gangster boss Leo and Willie Nelson as Frank’s father figure and safecracker genius, Okla.

The expensive cars, the neon lights in the city night and the electric score from Tangerine Dream pack quite a punch to compliment the film’s narrative. Whilst the story may be a rather simple idea, the way it is developed and executed makes for an entertaining, visually-impressive experience. Add a dash of violence and you have a solid crime drama that stands its ground, no matter what, just like the character of Frank.

In 5.1 audio with a flawless high-definition transfer from Arrow Video, the Blu-Ray release of THIEF is an impressive one. The sounds of the vaults being broken into, the sparks flying, the car tyres screeching on the road and the gun shots blaring out from all angles will put you in the same room as Frank. And it doesn’t stop there. The release also comes with some cool extras including audio commentary, a documentary on Michael Mann, an old French interview with James Caan from the 80’s, and an excellent recent interview with James Caan from 2014, among others. The Blu-Ray features a reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Maarko Phntm and a collector’s booklet containing an essay on the film by Brad Stevens.

An artful, character-driven, gritty noir tale, Arrow Video’s release of THIEF is definitely one to add to your collection.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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About Bat 4392 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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