While ENTRAPMENT appealed to a mass audience with low-brow dialogue and many action sequences, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR is an adults-only remake (from a 1968 original of the same name starring Steve McQueen) featuring very posh art direction, witty writing and acting, and a few really steamy, gratuitous sex scenes.
Straying not far from his James Bond role, or Remington Steele for that matter, Pierce Brosnan plays billionaire art lover Thomas Crown. He manages to pull off an art heist of a Monet from the New York Met with no violence, lots of trickery (including a Trojan Horse maneuver) and a few accomplices whom he never meets. Nobody knows who did it. Cynical, hardened inspector Michael McCann (Denis Leary) jumps on the case. He is soon joined by a worldly, smart partner, Catherine Banning (Rene Russo), who has a few tricks up her sleeve herself. She uses all of her womanly intuition, and body, to get her man.
Catherine instantly suspects Crown, and shines up to him at a party. They begin a cat-and-mouse dialogue and soon are sleeping together, much to McCann’s displeasure. Nevertheless, she stays focused on the case, breaks into Crown’s home and recovers the Monet – or rather a knock-off of it planted by Crown to throw her off the trail.
It isn’t too long before Crown takes her out gliding and traveling to private resorts in the Caribbean. Their love affair intensifies, and he puts her love to the test. Catherine cries and realizes she is in love with Crown. Like Catherine Zeta-Jones in ENTRAPMENT, Catherine starts playing both sides and attempts to figure out a way to clear Crown and still keep her man. In a final showdown of will and wits (not guns) meant to trap Crown, Crown acts to return the stolen painting, but ends up leaving with yet another and an uncertain future for him and Catherine.
Acting, writing, art direction, and plot are all top notch in this movie. Some of the directing and cinematography draws attention to itself, as it did in the original. The beginning starts slow, and a framing bit with Crown visiting his psychiatrist, played by Faye Dunaway, star of the original movie, needs removal. The 1960s-influenced music by turns sets the retro-mood but then becomes cheesy.
As in ENTRAPMENT, the heroes, with whom the audience is supposed to sympathize and cheer, are criminals. Catherine would certainly lose her job as an insurance inspector if she got herself even remotely involved romantically with a thief. Yet, Brosnan (who I kept waiting to hear say, “Bond, James Bond”) is the image of smoothness, class and cleverness.
Brosnan in fact pulls off his act with (dare I say it) far more panache than the original Bond, Sean Connery, did in ENTRAPMENT. Plus, Brosnan and Russo are close in age, so their love affair with each other seems remotely feasible. Yet, parents should be warned that their love scenes are steamy, bold and quite gratuitous. THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR in effect acts as a stunning feature-length advertisement for the new James Bond movie coming out at Christmas, with Brosnan again performing equal stunts of cunning, charm and danger.
Though few adults have the means, resources or smarts to pull off fine art crimes, this movie nevertheless encourages crime as a lifestyle. Hence, though seemingly ridiculous, some who see this movie may be emboldened to perform petty crimes at their place of work. After a recent dose of the same medicine in ENTRAPMENT, the repetitive message of crime paying very handsomely indeed may find more sympathy and more practitioners.
A worldview which romanticizes art thief & depicts him as unaccountable for his sins; 21 obscenities & 4 profanities; some mild action violence including chasing with guns, a boat crash & crowd panicking; strong sexuality including several scenes of depicted fornication & sexual dancing; full male & full female nudity (no genitalia) & several nude statues; alcohol use; smoking; and, theft, seduction into crime & lying.