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1,275 Ratings


Directed by Michael Mann
United States, 1981
Action, Drama, Crime


Becoming closer to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safecracker agrees to do a job for the mafia, who have other plans for him.

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Thief Directed by Michael Mann
The thrill doesn’t come from narrative tension; it instead comes from what Mann is able to do with light, sound, and texture — the way he composes them all in a breathtaking dance… The vault heist is a riot of sensation and style — an elongated stretch of heightened reality that approaches pure abstraction until the moment the door finally gives way — but the sequence is rooted in deep research and a sedulous approach to realism.
February 05, 2016
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It’s understandable that “Thief” may have seemed like a promising début in 1981; it would have seemed like a promising début in 1971, 1961, or 1951. Its main virtue is a strong infusion of bracingly practical, hard-nosed details of the criminal life… Mann came onto the scene at a time when many of the icons of the nineteen-seventies were flaming out after hubristic feats, and others were being overshadowed by a new generation of kiddie-pop filmmakers led by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
February 05, 2016
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One of the most soulful heist movies ever made and containing rarely-better work from James Caan, Tuesday Weld and a white-hot Tangerine Dream score. Real thieves served as technical advisers, so you can be confident that every drill bit and saw is authentic, which would mean little if not for the passion the young Mann is already able to convey in even throwaway shots and quiet scenes like the celebrated Caan-Weld coffeeshop talk.
February 04, 2016
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What are people saying?

  • Ethan's rating of the film Thief

    James Caan gives an intense performance in this explosive debut feature from Michael Mann. This film would set up Mann's whole style, with the intimate portraits of criminal life and taking a hard look at the business side of crime. A beautiful noir that shines like a gem in the wasteland of 80s cinema.

  • Nicholas Gregory's rating of the film Thief

    Equal parts tough and touching. Without much of his trademark action set pieces, Mann creates an intimate portrait of Caan’s hardened character who would be the utterly cliche of a thief with one last job before a life of marital bliss, yet creates the character and this romance convincingly. It may be not as thrilling, intense, or creative as Mann's others, but scenes like the coffee shop monologue stick with you.

  • Z's rating of the film Thief

    Mann displays the poetry, craft and sorrowful anger of the career criminal. Caan was never better than he is in Mann's portrait of a lonely nighthawk trying to obtain the American lie who must revert to nihilism to survive. Only when Frank divests himself of all of his business and personal entanglements can he seek proper, retributive vengeance. Professionalism seasoned with style is the finest art in Mann's world.

  • Bilouaustria's rating of the film Thief

    CINEMA _ Mann before the new technologies already owned the night. Beautiful light (dark) and music. Kind of the perfect trailer of the 80s still to come. But all the cosmetic in the world won't mask the poor storytelling. I guess Mann doesn't care : he's so often on the thin line with abstraction, forms, colours, metal (the scene where they open the safe, millions of stars shining almost making the viewer blind).

  • Matthew Martens's rating of the film Thief

    If Thief may not entirely earn the gravitas it all but groans with, God knows it looks the part. The weight James Caan carries on his Chicago-sized shoulders only grows as the stakes get higher and his associates shade sketchier, while the ink-black gutters, lining nights numbed null with neon, glimmer and shiver as if cut with a thousand diamonds and left to bleed dry. Tuesday Weld kills as a rueful beauty ruining.

  • Lights in the Dusk's rating of the film Thief

    An intense, neon-lit, existential character-study; as much about the psychology of the imprisoned mind as the more obvious crime story theatrics. Frank is a character who finds himself being slowly incarcerated by circumstance; his need for freedom forcing him down a path of almost Samurai-like self-cleansing through violent self-destruction. The first flicker of Mann as American cinema's preeminent modernist master.

  • Samuel T.'s rating of the film Thief

    More like a 3, but when you have Tangerine Dream ringing over over-sized phallic drill bits piercing bank vaults, circular saws busting up buildings, and car lots burning in pools of gasoline, it raises the bar.

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film Thief

    Sometimes on a Friday, you just need some Michael Mann: honorable crooks, awash in neon synths, gazing forever into the blue (very blue) yonder. Mann takes the cliches of action/film noir seriously—he fleshes out the runtime as though he's sure this material is as weighty as any genteel drama. And who knows, maybe he's right. At this point, I wonder if there's anything he can't do, except write a credible woman.

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