very similar to heat, this, earlier, michael mann picture is nearly as good as its 1995 relative. one of the things that makes michael mann’s heist films so fun to watch is the authenticity and detail with which he portrays the job. he treats the preparation with as much care and detail as he does the actual heist and that’s not only cool to see, but it also serves the authenticity of the entire film rather well.
this film, though related to heat, is definitely a separate entity. for starters, the score, done by tangerine dream, places the film squarely in the eighties yet doesn’t sound cheesy by today’s standards. tangerine dream and vangelis (blade runner) are two music acts of the time which could score a film without dating it like many of the other synth soundtracks of the time. the dynamics of the picture are also different from those in heat. caan plays a deniro like character, but he’s more eager to settle down than deniro initially is in heat. on the flipside the cops in thief are far from the professionals that pacino and his crew are in heat; thief is a bit less balanced in this regard. the police in thief repeatedly attempt to shake down caan in cheap, lazy attempts to extort a cut of his next job.
the film has a solid sense of humor which certainly adds to the film’s enjoyment, but it’s not merely a comic heist film. the dramatic element of the film is as strong as we’ve come to expect from a michael mann film. it doesn’t have the balance, brilliant acting and epic feel that heat does, but, on its own, the film is quite strong and certainly worth watching.