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The Thomas Crown Affair

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Thomas Crown Affair

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo
Director: John McTiernan
Rated: R
RunTime: 113 Minutes
Release Date: August 1999
Genres: Action, Thriller

*Also starring: Dennis Leary, Faye Dunaway

Review by Walter Frith
1½ stars out of 4

The only thing worse than a bad sequel is a bad remake. Bad remakes are worse because they lower the integrity of the original film somewhat and if anyone ever tries to remake 'Citizen Kane', 'The Godfather' or 'Star Wars' they will certainly fail. A remake of the 1968 film 'The Thomas Crown Affair' directed by Norman Jewison probably sounded like a good idea at the time but who knew things could go so wrong.

The original starred Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway and this remake is with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. Brosnan is a corporate big shot named Thomas Crown in New York City who has a passion for antique paintings. He also likes to steal them. Not for the cash but for the sheer pleasure of having them hang in his home. His latest fancy is a painting worth one hundred million dollars. After scooping it up, he becomes the prime suspect of an investigation headed by an insurance investigator named Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) and she works with the NYC police department who, at first, refuse to believe he is a suspect in the crime.

'The Thomas Crown Affair' takes a familiar path into the silly and downright unbelievable as it makes Crown the only intelligent man in the film and Russo is the only other person in the film with similar intelligence. All the other characters in the film, the police, the museum security and anyone else involved in the case are made to look like bumbling idiots who can't do anything right. To further bother the frequent movie goer, the film has Banning falling for the man she's supposed to be investigating. Whether or not a remake should incorporate things found in the original is beside the point.

I have always found John McTiernan to be a director better suited to action films than anything else. Having done the first and third installments in the 'Die Hard' trilogy along with 'Predator' made McTiernan a formidable director of action. He is not suited for dialogue layered pictures where interaction and sub text are needed. His films become shallow in this regard. McTiernan tries to inject a little antic he used in 'Die Hard'. There's a scene in 'The Thomas Crown Affair' where he has Brosnan use those little explosive hockey puck devices that explode and create lots of smoke that develop a diversion to the scene.

One thing that really bothered me about 'The Thomas Crown Affair' was the downright staging of the whole thing. Getting actors to say their lines in a convincing way is not easy and it's made even more complicated by the fact that it doesn't help to mumble. Have you ever seen those programs about "The Making Of" a certain film where you see the actors on the set talking between takes --- either to each other or to the audience and there is a lot of noise around that drowns out what they're saying so it isn't totally clear? That's a large part of this film and many of the scenes look as if they've been done with only a couple of takes.

Pierce Brosnan is one of those actors who's only tailor made for a certain role and his latest attempts at portraying 007 James Bond have been good ones but his attempts at anything else have been mediocre at best. Rene Russo has also been bitten somewhat by the stereotype bug. After turns in two 'Lethal Weapon' films and a stint as a secret service agent in 'In the Line of Fire' in 1993, not to mention starring opposite a primate in 'Buddy' have given her few qualifications to star in a remake of a classic motion picture. Maybe she and Brosnan should do a sequel to 'The Blue Lagoon'. It couldn't be much worse than this film.

OUT OF 5 > * 1/2

Visit FILM FOLLOW-UP by Walter Frith

Copyright 2000 Walter Frith

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