Michael Mann directs James Caan as a professional safecracker named Frank, who specializes in high-profile diamond heists. Frank plans to use his ill-gotten income to retire from crime and build a nice life for himself complete with a home, wife and kids. To accelerate this process, he signs on with a top gangster (Robert Prosky) for a big score. But when Frank tries to quit the job, the mob comes after him and his girlfriend (Tuesday Weld).
Neil Jordan's film is nominally a remake of Jean-Pierre Melville's 1955 atmospheric poetic noir, "Bob le Flambeur." But Mr. Jordan has soaked his remake in color, and has added a few cylinders to the combustion. The movie feels more like a breezy, jazz-inflected version of the original: it's a triumph of flourish, with all weathered movie-star-size gestures. "The Good Thief" combines American flamboyance and French existentialist delirium. As played by Mr. Nolte, Bob is a brawny noir pin-up as trickster — an old dog who never lets on how many tricks he knows. Mr. Jordan gives the proceedings a double-heist plot turn. This ultimate caper film has a brazen ebullience, something unusual for Mr. Jordan. — Elvis Mitchell
2003-04-02 | Elvis Mitchell | Read the New York Times Review of The Good Thief