Thief (1981) Movie Review: Michael Mann Starts Off on the Wrong Foot

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time Jim Belushi doesn’t turn you on.

Do a Shot: for every moment of unoriginality

Take a Hit er I mean Take a Swig: for Willie Nelsons’ Cameo

Finish your Drink: for the weird court scene regarding Oklas’ Early Release. I don’t think weird Jedi mind tricks will get you out of prison.

Community Review


Movie Review

By: Movie Snurb (Four Beers) –

Though Michael Mann had a pretty solid career, as most would say, his career didn’t start out great. Thief was Mann’s first feature film.  It starred James Caan as Frank, a professional safe cracker who wants to retire from the business and relax. He finds a business proposition from some organized crime boss and says he can get Frank a couple of jobs that will be high-paying. Frank agrees to do a couple of jobs in return for a handsome payoff so he can retire.


A Toast

Michael Mann sure can make a beautiful film. The vault heist scenes are done very well. Having the scenes done with a dark background so the lights are highlighted is reminiscent of something from Heat, Miami Vice, and Collateral. Michael Mann has an ability to give his gritty crime dramas a very cool vibe to them.

Also, the acting is great. James Caan is stellar as usual in this slow burner of a drama. Also Willie Nelson has a small role as a mentor to Frank and he’s great. He’s able to make you feel for his character, Okla, who used to crack safes but got sent away and is a reformed man who just wants to not die in prison. I would’ve figured he’d be in there for possession.


Beer Two

The first of a few problems this film had was the score. Do you remember those electro synth pop scores of the 80’s? Sometimes they can be great and work well with the film. In this case it was loud and annoying. Apparently they thought that if there is no dialogue then loud distracting electro synth should be blaring through the screen. Imagine if someone wanted to play the electric keyboard for you. So they put the keyboard next to your face and just held down on the keys. Well, then you have the film’s score. Loud chords held for long periods of time while there is no dialogue.


Every time the score came on I just wanted to scream SHUUUUUT UUUUP!

Beer Three

Frank goes to the same café every morning not just for the coffee but because the cashier is very cute. One day he asks this lovely lady out and she agrees to dinner. Well, Frank is held up because this organized crime boss made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Frank ends up being two hours late to his and Jessie’s date. When he shows up she wants nothing to do with him, but he won’t take that. He pulls her out of the bar and forces her into his car.

Driving around, Frank begins to tell Jessie that he’s a safe cracker, because Okla told him to never lie to anyone close to him. They’ve met once!! Then they go to a diner and he tells her he wants out of the game and wants to retire. After some back and forth they agree to date. Not long after they are seen buying a house together. There is no hint of a time lapse, so we are led to believe that after one date they are buying a house together. Then when they apply for adoption they are not given the opportunity because Frank has a criminal history. So he has a sit down with the crime boss who tells Frank, “I can get you a baby”. Boom, next scene they have a kid. Where did the kid come from?

The last and very small problem I had with the film was Jim Belushi. Are we really supposed to believe that Jim Belushi was sexy? There’s a scene where he is on the beach with his significant other and Frank and Jessie and he’s running around in tight swim trunks and no shirt. Why? Who asked for that? Come on!!!


Seriously ladies, is this sexy?

Beer Four

There wasn’t a lot of originality with the story. A guy is good at committing some crime. He wants out. He has to do one last job before he can get out. The organized crime boss screws him out of money. The film climaxes with Frank getting his revenge against the crime boss. Wow, I haven’t heard this story arc before. The film’s just a little too unoriginal for me.



Despite the few bright spots Thief has, it definitely has its downfalls, particularly an annoying score, an attempt to make Jim Belushi sexy, bad time lapsing of relationships, and an overall lack of originality. It’s too bad, because I really like Michael Mann, but this is not his best work.



About Movie Snurb

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!