Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

Far be it from me to come down hard on an actor like Pierce Brosnan, who has made a career out of being suave and debonair, but that kind of characterization really can only carry an actor so far. This remake of the 1968 film that starred Steve McQueen is about a multigabillionaire investment banker who happens to be an art thief. Well, he’s struck again, and it’s up to the luscious Rene Russo (as an insurance investigator) to catch the thief.

Similarities to the more recent Entrapment abound – in that one, Sean Connery was the suave rich fella with an eye for art, and Catherine Zeta-Jones was the sexy insurance investigator. The problem with that film might have been the romance between Zeta-Jones and Connery, who easily is old enough to be her grandfather. In this film, the two characters appear to rather close in age, so at least that quibble doesn’t exist.

So let’s see what we have. We know right from the beginning that Crown has stolen yet another priceless work of art, so that bit of suspense is gone. And we know that our friendly neighborhood insurance investigator (did you know they can be sexy, too? Who knew?) will nab him not by catching him in the act but by – ahem – pretending to fall for him so she can learn his methods and turn him in as an insider. When you know your ‘good guy’ is willing to risk it all to get her man, you know her credibility is shot. The chances of her keeping her head above water and not falling for him are incredibly slim, and we know that as the movie progresses we’ll see Crown as less of a thief and more of a victim. Ho-hum.

Now that I’ve blasted the script, let’s look at the actors’ work. Brosnan plays Crown pretty much the way you’d expect him to – aloof, cunning, intelligent – kind of like a James Bond Lite. He doesn’t bring a whole lot of excitement to the role, other than the fact that he’s Pierce Brosnan. As far as Russo goes – well, she did several inexplicable gratuitous nude (topless, anyway) scenes in this film. Now, sometimes gratuitous nudity is okay in my book – it can distract you from an otherwise dull film. But it seems to me the only reason Russo – an accomplished actress – would consent to showing her breasts is to demonstrate she’s not bad-looking … for a woman in her forties. Other than for vanity reasons, there’s no reason in the world for her to get naked. (Would that Catherine Zeta-Jones had done the same in Entrapment!)

For me, this movie wasn’t even good as escapist fare. Quite frankly, a suspense movie with no suspense has little going for it, although the lush production locations did ease the boredom a little.

**

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