Thomas Crown Affair - 1999
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 4, 2000
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In Short: Poor image quality, mediocre at best movie, dull commentary...decent sound.

The Movie:

An uninteresting remake of the 1968 classic starring Steve McQueen, this "Thomas Crown" stars Pierce Brosnan(who has kept MGM from total failure with the "James Bond" series lately) and Rene Russo as the investigator out to get him. Those who are expecting an action movie from the "James Bond" star (who also produced this film) will be in for a serious dissapointment. Those who are expecting an exciting drama of cat and mouse between Russo and Brosnan will be just as dissapointed. Not only does the movie contain few action sequences that don't thrill, the chemistry between Brosnan and Russo is blah at best.

Brosnan is excellent and finely cast as Thomas Crown, where he can play the "lite" version of his James Bond character (just one calorie, not "Bond" enough) here. The movie's problem is that it really feels slow at points and doesn't give the characters nearly enough to do for its running time. Most of the film is dull and seriously lacking any sort of spark. It's supposed to be about style, I suppose, but a bored flash of scenery doesn't make for an interesting picture. Rene Russo really is the only one that seems to be trying to add the slightest bit of energy in her performance, giving the role an intensity as she tries to catch Crown. It's an exciting performance in a film that feels almost completely lifeless.

I haven't seen the original, but this is generally the same story; extremely wealthy business tycoon Thomas Crown also has another life as a professional art thief, for no reason but the fact that it gives him something to do. It amuses him. Russo plays the investigator who finds herself getting too close and falling for him; Dennis Leary is the detective she's working with in the case.

There's certainly some great scenery and fine cinematography. It's all supposed to be elegant, but it's all more boring than anything. I thought "Entrapment" the other, similar thief thriller that came out this year was fairly poor in terms of script, but at least it was never boring, something this film is definitely guilty of. John McTiernan is a fine director, but apparently the wrong choice to direct this picture.


This is very dissapointing work from MGM, who has brought out some good efforts to DVD in the past, so I really am baffled as to what went (quite) wrong with this release. From first glance, the picture appears soft and lacking detail, but, looking further reveals new sets of problems to deal with. Colors are slightly pale looking and lacking vibrancy. Flesh tones are accurate and natural. The picture lacks fine detail.

That's really only the begining. There's waytoo many marks and various problems with the print than there should be for a release this new. Some of these are not small marks either, but noticable flaws that I found distracting. Shimmering and pixelization make themselves known as well, to distracting amounts at times. There are scenes every so often throughout the movie that are almost hard to watch. Whatever may have happened to cause such a dissapointing transfer, I know that if I was director John McTiernan, I would be furious if I saw that a movie I did looked this poor. There's a scene here and there that fares ok, but for the most part, this is highly dissapointing, and probably the worst looking DVD edition of a new release I've seen in memory.

SOUND: As bad as the picture quality is, I really did kind of enjoy the audio side of this movie, which occasionally puts the surrounds to effective use and also, highlights the great score. Nothing impressive, and lacking in bass, but there really isn't anything wrong with it. Dialogue is fine, clear and without problems.

MENUS:: Neat menus that take you into the museum where scenes play out as "paintings" on the wall. None of the other menus are animated.

Commentary: This is a commentary by director John McTiernan, who contributes one of my least favorite kinds of commentary, the commentary where the director takes a noticably long time between speaking. There's some interesting technical information, but McTiernan sounds fairly disinterested in the discussion. I listened to the majority of this commentary track but had to turn it off because it was coming fairly close to putting me to sleep (and I need to stay up, since I'm writing this on New Year's Eve, 1999). As I said before, there are some good details about the production if you want to sit through a lot of silence and so-so comments. McTiernan is a great director, but this commentary proves my theory that not every one should do a commentary track.

Also: The trailer for this movie (which makes it look a lot more exciting than it really is) and the 1968 original.

Final Thoughts Really the only thing at least slightly positive is the sound. Other than that, a dissapointment in all aspects. Not recommended.

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