Blu-Ray Review - Thief (1981) - Arrow Films

Reviewed by Paul Crowson

A year or so ago in the good ol' U.S of A, the Criterion Collection released Michael Mann's Thief as part of their collection. Like so many Brits I cried for days, cursing the region locking of a classic and wondering whether I would ever see the 1981 masterpiece in its HD glory. Maybe I should invest in a region free blu ray player I thought.
Well thank Nora Batty I didn’t!
Arrow Films have come through for us tea drinking Brits yet again and not only have they released Thief on Blu, but they’ve done it BETTER than the Criterion version. Whose crying now!!!!

James Caan plays Frank. He's the best in the business at cracking safes for big scores. Frank wants to settle down. He pursues Jessie played by Tuesday Weld, so he can finally be married and be the perfect family man, he just needs a big score to retire on. Being self employed on his jobs, he reluctantly agrees to one last job for the big boys. It's for a huge payday, but once you’re in, is it easy to get out?

Michael Mann is a great director and this is one of his best, if not the best movie he’s made. Adding to that is James Caan giving, in my opinion, his greatest ever performance.
It was released in 1981, and the movie has a distinct eighties look and a great score from Tangerine Dream, but at its heart it’s like one of the greats the seventies forgot to make. It has a neon tinge mixed with seventies grit and the closest we get to a good guy is James Caan, and even he’s an anti-hero. The badass who we all want to be.
It is THE eighties noir movie. Everything about this movie is fantastic, the mood, the suspense and although it's not really an action movie, when the action comes, it’s brutal and fast.
It doesn’t seem to get mentioned as much as other crime thrillers, but this Michael Mann gem has, no doubt, influenced a lot of the movies today like Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, for instance. Mann never makes Thief, we don’t get Drive and certainly not a Drive with a cool eighties inspired score and LA looking amazing.

This is a great package, it's definitely the edition it needs and deserves. It looks fantastic. The limited slipcase edition has a restoration print of the directors cut remastered in 4K and on the other disc is the HD theatrical cut. Sound is also of the highest standard. The excellent Tangerine Dream score pumps through and dialogue is very clear.
Based on the presentation of the movie alone, it's time to resign your old dvd copy of Thief to the attic, you’ll never have seen it so good.
There are also extras galore! A great doc on director Michael Mann, that covers his career from The Jericho Mile, his debut feature made for TV, all the way to 2001. It was an original documentary for the 'The Directors' series. The Michael Mann and James Caan commentary is a huge bonus! For a movie that relies on detail, Mann talks about everything down to the very last small bit of it.
A new interview with James Caan and an retro documentary, filmed after Thief, about James Caan is included. It's a nostalgic watch and was made for French television.
Trailers and another featurette are included on this extensive and ultimate edition.

Region: B
Rating: 18
Cat No: FCD1027
Duration: 125 and 122 mins
Language: English
Subtitles: English SDH
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: 5.1 / 2.0

- Limited Slipcase Edition [3000 units] featuring two versions of the film
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the director’s cut from a new 4K film transfer, approved by director Michael Mann, with uncompressed 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the original theatrical cut [Limited Edition Exclusive] with original uncompressed 2.0 Stereo PCM audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Optional isolated music and effects track on the theatrical cut
- Audio commentary by writer-director Michael Mann and actor James Caan
- The Directors: Michael Mann – a 2001 documentary on the filmmaker, containing interviews with Mann, James Belushi, William Petersen, Jon Voight and others
- Stolen Dreams – a new interview with Caan, filmed exclusively for this release
- Hollywood USA: James Caan – an episode of the French TV series Ciné regards devoted to the actor, filmed shortly after Thief had finished production
- The Art of the Heist – an examination of Thief with writer and critic F.X. Feeney, author of the Taschen volume on Michael Mann
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by maarko phntm
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Brad Stevens

Written by Paul Crowson
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