The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Romance
MGM || R - 113 minutes - $24.99 || April 6, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-04-09


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: John McTiernan
Writer(s): Alan R. Trustman (story), Leslie Dixon & Kurt Wimmer (screenplay)
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo, Denis Leary


Theatrical Release Date: August 6, 1999


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • DVD Copy
  • Audio Commentary (DVD)


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

In recent years Hollywood has been remaking or rebooting everything under the sun (Real Geniuses was recently announced) but I remember a time when there were remakes that improved on the original. The Thomas Crown Affair, a remake of the 1968 Steve McQueen/Faye Dunaway crime-romance, stars Pierce Brosnan as the billionaire art thief Thomas Crown and Rene Russo as the relentless bounty hunter tasked to get the painting back and get her man.

The story gets kicked off with a cool, though highly improbable, heist of a $100 million art piece. Thomas Crown (BROSNAN) manages to orchestrate for a Trojan horse to be delivered into the bowels of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, inside which are four skilled Romanians who manage to cut the air conditioning, disconnect the security for the artworks and ultimately get caught. All good so far. Then in comes Crown, using a briefcase with titanium inside to hold up a security gate, run inside, nab the painting, somehow get it into another briefcase he had left there earlier, and walks out the front door scot-free.

In comes Catherine Benning (RUSSO), an agent for the insurance company and is intent on getting the painting back and net 5% of the painting’s value or a cool $5 million. She almost immediately hones in on Crown who to some might come off as some rich brokerage investor but has a much more wild side to him after witnessing him crashing an expensive catamaran just for thrills.

Despite the objections of the lead police investigator, Detective Michael McCann (DENIS LEARY), Catherine gets herself closer to Thomas Crown and Thomas Crown closer to her, each a worthy adversary for the other. They soon develop a risky but deep relationship with one another with Thomas taking her to his Caribbean retreat, though the stolen Monet still dangles in the background. Can Catherine trust Thomas? Can Thomas trust Catherine?

Over the years I’ve probably watched this remake a half dozen times (give or take) and while it does have plenty of issues in terms of logic (luck plays a great part in Crown’s initial heist) not to mention some plot holes (how exactly did he get that painting into the special briefcase without damaging it or the frame?), but luckily Brosnan’s charm that helped him through even the roughest of James Bond movies, Die Another Day, pulled him through some of the more unexplained plot devices.

The other reason this film succeeds is thanks in large part to the romantic chemistry between Brosnan and Russo. Much in the same way as Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway sizzled 31 years prior (Dunaway makes a brief appearance as Crown’s psychiatrist), the two have the rivalry but playfulness that seems to come off naturally than scripted.

The Thomas Crown Affair was directed by John McTiernan and while he’s mainly known for the amazing Die Hard, comes more off as a studio-for-hire than anything. Not to take anything away from his direction or style, but I didn’t find anything in this film to be of particular uniqueness, although when you have Brosnan and Russo working so well, maybe it’s good to keep things simple.

Overall, the movie does have plenty of flaws that should’ve made it yet another pointless and inadequate remake to go along with the rest, but the chemistry between Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo, as well as a cool (though illogical) heist makes it all so worth it. Does it measure up with the original? Not so much and they did give this version a Hollywood ending, but it all still works even after all these years.

On a side note: The script was co-written by (off of a story by Alan R. Trustman) Kurt Wimmer who you might remember the man behind Equilibrium, Ultraviolet, Law Abiding Citizen and the upcoming Angelina Jolie vehicle, Salt.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

This Blu-ray release, like many others that Fox has put out, comes with the original DVD. The Blu-ray itself has no features and the DVD merely contains an Audio Commentary by Director John McTiernan.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The Thomas Crown Affair makes its way in the high-def catalogue crowd presented in its original 2.35 aspect ratio and now 1080p high-definition. While the video transfers on some Fox catalogue titles have been decent enough, I wasn’t really impressed with this one. First, the detail levels on close-up shots were alright but on some of the more medium shots, things were a tad too soft. I noticed this right off during the credits in which Brosnan is sitting in the back of a cab, even the credit for that scene looked too soft while others were noticeable crisper. On the plus side, the color palette does look good from the camel brown of Brosnan’s coat near the end to the paintings in the museum. Nothing is going to pop off the screen or anything, however.

On the audio front, the disc sports a relatively tame 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Although the dialogue levels were fine, everything else sounded a tad flat and add to the fact the subwoofer was almost non-existent. I know there’s only so much a studio is going to do for a catalogue video transfer, but I had hoped the audio would make up for it, sadly it did not.



.::OVERALL::.

With no features on the Blu-ray disc and a ho-hum commentary on the included DVD, one must look to the audio and video to ask whether or not this release is worth owning. For me, although both are a slight improvement over its DVD counterpart, I cannot recommend buying this Blu-ray unless it’s real cheap.