This stylish, sexy remake of The Thomas Crown Affair is
something of a pet project for star Pierce Brosnan, who also produced
the film. The 1968 original was a largely unremarkable movie, made
more memorable by the suave and cool Steve McQueen at his charismatic
best, and director Norman Jewison's then revolutionary use of
split-screen techniques during a climactic heist scene. This slick
caper thriller is a fairly conventional film from director John
McTiernan (the original Die Hard, Predator, etc), who has previously
displayed an affinity for cinematic pyrotechnics and spectacular
action sequences. McTiernan retains enough familiar elements to
satisfy older audiences who remember the original, while cleverly
updating the story for the more cynical and technologically advanced
There are some sly nods to the original, especially through
the token presence of Faye Dunaway, wasted in a largely irrelevant
role as Crown's psychiatrist, and a bland reprise of the Oscar winning
song Windmills Of My Mind. However, McTiernan suffuses this new
version with enough new touches to make it seem fresh for audiences
unfamiliar with the original.
In between Bond assignments, Brosnan comfortably steps into
McQueen's shoes as Thomas Crown, the rich but bored millionaire who
steals for kicks. In the 1968 original, Crown robbed banks, but here
he steals paintings. When a priceless Monet is lifted from an art
gallery during an elaborately staged but bungled robbery, beautiful
and resourceful female insurance investigator Catherine Banning (Rene
Russo in the Faye Dunaway role) suspects Crown. She doggedly pursues
Crown and gets up close and personal with him in the hopes of trapping
him. The intriguing cat and mouse game between Crown and Banning adds
to the suspense of the film.
McTiernan and script writers Leslie Dixon (Outrageous Fortune,
etc) and Kurt Wimmer stick to the tried and true formula of similar
thrillers (To Catch A Thief, the recent Entrapment, etc), placing the
tempestuous relationship between the two protagonists at the centre of
the film. This new version of The Thomas Crown Affair has a more
sentimental outlook than the original.
The film also has a deliberately raunchy edge, with generous
dollops of sex and nudity. There is an obvious sexual chemistry
between the two stars, and McTiernan is clever enough to exploit this
to enhance a plot that otherwise looks rather tired and formulaic.
The two stars definitely prove that there is life after forty!
Reunited with his Nomads director, Brosnan brings charm, sex
appeal and a dangerous edge to his engaging performance as the suave
thief. Russo (the Lethal Weapon series, etc) stamps her sexy and
seductive presence on her role, and she fairly sizzles across the
Denis Leary has a droll and sarcastic presence as the
beleaguered New York detective assigned to the case, and adds some
humour to proceedings.
This sophisticated thriller is beautifully staged and
seductively photographed by Tom Priestley.
Copyright © 2000 Greg King