Thief

Rated R 122 minutes

The 1981 feature debut of Michael Mann is firmly aligned along the neo-macho axis of Scorsese, Cimino, and Schrader; it's an attempt to parlay a surly, alienated hero (James Caan) into an abstract existential force. But Mann's observations are trite, derivative, and frequently sentimental; by giving us a professional burglar who yearns for the suburban security of wife and family, he comes weirdly close to an amalgam of Taxi Driver and Kramer vs. Kramer. The visual style is strictly small screen: tight, head-bonking close-ups occasionally relieved by self-conscious pictorial effects. With Tuesday Weld, Willie Nelson, Jim Belushi, and Robert Prosky, who, as a fatherly crime boss, has the great wisdom to underplay in this exaggerated context.

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