THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR 1999, 113 minutes
As cinematic confections go, the two Thomas Crown Affairs are notable in that they are windows into the times that made them. The first film, released in 1968 and set in Boston with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, is an exercise in mid-sixties cool. But in the story of a bored tycoon who stages a robbery for kicks, only to find himself falling for the investigator, there was a distinct sense ennui from that period.
In the 1999 remake with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo, there is no languor whatsoever, as the film embraces Giuliani’s New York in all its hubristic glory, with the city coming across as flush, fun, benign, and safe––an illusion that would be swept away two years later. But the film is undeniably buoyant, with Brosnan’s unflappable, unknowable billionaire meeting his match in Rene Russo’s insurance investigator. If Faye Dunaway played the role in 1968 as the embodiment of glam, Russo is a force of nature, determined to bring down Thomas Crown––all the while enjoying the chase until their affections catch up with them. The third star of the film is Dennis Leary, his acerbic persona in top form as a jaundiced but ethical police detective who provides a reality check as Brosnan and Russo’s cat-and-mouse romance grows ever more intense.
BE ADVISED–– This film is rated R, with smoking, drinking, profanity, sexuality, nudity, art theft, corporate leveraging, musical appropriation, getting tasered, and snagging a seat at Cipriani’s without a reservation.