Review: ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’
Forget about whether or not this is a good remake of the beloved Steve McQueen. This is a smart, stylish drama that treats its characters like adults as it also respects its audience. The Thomas Crown Affair was released in 1999 and remains one of Pierce Brosnan’s most popular films because of his nuanced interpretation of Crown, a wealthy businessman who steals because the challenge keeps him alive.
When he steals from an art museum, insurance investigator Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) assists Detective Michael McCann (Denis Leary) in the investigation. Banning, an American based in Europe, pretty quickly targets Crown as her man. As she lays her sexy trap, we see them toy with one another, leading to a sexually charged sequence that continues to smolder on the Blu-ray release, out this week from MGM Home Entertainment.
The film is based on the 1968 McQueen box office hit which had Crown portrayed as a bank robber, committing two crimes before the story reached its climax. The film’s original downbeat ending was tweaked for something more satisfying as you find yourselves rooting for Brosnan and Russo. Faye Dunaway, McQueen’s love interest, returns as Brosnan’s psychiatrist for a handful of scenes that don’t really move things along. In fact, we never really get into Crown’s head; never really get to understand why he needs to break the law to feel alive. Nor do we understand why he never married or had family, great challenges themselves.
Still, the film has interesting twists and while the stakes are high. No one is dead serious, they allow themselves to live and even be humorous.
The climax, as Brosnan honors his commitment to restore the painting without being caught, remains a delight to watch again.
Brosnan’s suave demeanor made him perfect for the remake but he held out for director John McTiernan to come aboard and make sure this was done right. The director insisted on numerous story changes, distancing itself further from the original and keeping it more in line with modern day sensibilities.
No one was happy with the video transfer when the DVD was initially released and people were leery of the Blu-ray’s release given MGM’s spotty reputation. The good news is that this is a superior image compared to the DVD. Not the sharpest Blu-ray release, but certainly an improvement. Additionally, Bill Conti’s excellent score and soundtrack sounds fabulous. Even his choice of songs, such as Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” shows a decision to appeal to the older viewers, rather than filling it with soft rock or pop numbers. The soundtrack stands out on its own.
Oddly, the only extra is McTiernan’s 1999 commentary, which can be found on the Standard DVD disc. Yes, this is released in the combo pack so Blu-ray, standard and digital discs for a reasonable price of $24.95.