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The Thomas Crown Affair Review

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Bounty hunter Catherine Banning finds herself pursuing art thief Thomas Crown professionally and personally.

★★★★

Die Hard director John McTiernan had his work cut out for him retooling and updating Norman Jewison’s 1968 caper classic. After all, that movie had the iconic cool of Steve McQueen and came to define late 60s cinematic chic. It also had that haunting Oscar-winning number The Windmills Of Your Mind. Well, McTiernan’s remake has the song and a good deal more to boot, including, in the well toned post-Bond Brosnan and sex on legs Russo, the hottest celluloid couple of the year.

Thomas Crown (Brosnan) is a rich, self-made man from Glasgow(!) with millions to spare and no challenges left in life. He divides his time between high level deal-making and telling his shrink (Dunaway) just how empty and unsatisfying his life is. That is, until he takes up art theft on a grand scale - 'borrowing' a $100 million Monet from the local museum. Detective Michael McCann (Leary) is soon on the trail of the thief, as is big time insurance bounty hunter Catherine Banning (Russo), who very quickly sets her sights on Crown. In more ways than one. Thus begins an elaborate cat and mouse seduction, in which both hunter and the hunted find themselves on dangerous ground, with no one sure of where their feelings may lead them.

Such a situation of course stands or falls on the sexual chemistry between its leads - not a problem! Brosnan is all graceful elegance and smouldering charm, a confident, attractive man who even manages to push the presence of Bond out of the frame, while Russo is a veritable cat on heat, all smouldering sensuality, masking potential vulnerability. To say they heat the screen up is an understatement, landing them both in one of the most stylish and inventive sex scenes of recent memory.

While their passion is obvious, their real feelings are constantly unsure, lending the film a much needed tension that plays right through to (almost) the last frame. As absorbed as he is with his characters, McTiernan is still able to provide a couple of dazzling set pieces - the sustained opening heist (involving a pun-intended Trojan horse) is a doozy, while the Magritte-inspired, music-fuelled denouement is, well, inspired.

The jazz tinged soundtrack also lends the film a distinctly different tone, fuelled by the syncopated rhythms that run through it (though the inclusion of the full version of Noel Harrison’s Windmills tune does almost overplay things).
As smart, stylish, sophisticated and sexy as its leads, The Thomas Crown Affair is unlike anything else out there this summer. In many ways it’s this year’s Out Of Sight, with the heat turned up high.

A slick thriller with sizzling chemistry between Russo and Brosnan.