"Thus open the gates of paradise."

In this issue

The Thomas Crown Affair

06 Apr 2002

I saw the trailer for "The Thomas Crown Affair" a couple of weeks ago, and it just floored me. It promised a fast paced thriller, a caper film with sexy stars, a game of cat and mouse, the smell of money, and an exotic locale thrown in for good measure. Could this be one of those "damned good" films that Pierce Brosnan said he wanted to make in between Bond flicks?

Yeah, not really. I went in wanting to like it, but within the first 10 minutes, I think we all got the film makers' numbers. Pierce Brosnan plays Thomas Crown, billionaire, who owns a mansion und a yacht (actually an apartment and a catamaran). One day he steals a painting from the Metropolitan in New York. Just for kicks. Enter Renee Russo as Catherine, an insurance investigator who is out to nail him. Or something. Enter Denis Leary who plays the "good cop" with a heart of gold who really should be in a whole other movie. Things happen, Brosnan and Russo dance, then really dance, have a misunderstanding, and soon after, the movie ends to a tepid version of "The Windmills of Your Mind" by Sting.

Ben Gazzara

Ben Gazzara

Now this isn't a bad film, strictly speaking, but it's very fair to average, and could have been a whole lot more given a tighter reign on the storytelling and a more focused directorial style. The film is full of moments that could have hit the editing room floor without a second thought. The Pepsi product placement. The soaring. All the bits with Faye Dunaway as Crown's psychologist (why would a man like that need a shrink?) The sexual romp through Crown's apartment. Less is more, to be sure, but I would have liked to have seen more of Ben Gazzara who is on screen for about 10 seconds.

Frequently during the screening, I was reminded of "The Usual Suspects", one of the superlative caper films from a couple of years ago. It's seldom a good sign when one movie reminds me of another, especially while I'm watching it. You want to see "Thomas Crown"? Go see it on a Tuesday night, or at a cheap matinee. It's probably better than watching television.

Related Sites

"The Thomas Crown Affair" Official Web Site
"The Thomas Crown Affair" (1968) on the IMDB