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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Glamor Galore, but Chemistry Lacking
by Betty Jo Tucker

Beautiful people. Stunning fashions. Luxurious surroundings. All these appear throughout The Thomas Crown Affair, a remake of the 1968 romantic caper starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. This time handsome Pierce Brosnan and elegant Rene Russo assume the lead roles. However, despite their nude love scenes, they fail to ignite an on-screen chemistry equal to that between the original co-stars.

While struggling with issues of trust, McQueen and Dunaway needed no explicit sex romps to project smoldering attraction and romantic involvement. Instead, they used an old-fashioned technique called acting. Of course, both Brosnan and Russo can act up a storm too, but apparently not with each other. He made a terrific James Bond; she was a convincing FBI agent in In the Line of Fire. Too bad they don’t click as a screen couple. Even their big dance number comes straight out of Inspector Clouseau’s School of Ballroom Dancing. Still, they do look fabulous. If glamor were the only thing needed here, they would be perfect.

Brosnan plays the title role of Thomas Crown, a billionaire who steals expensive paintings simply because he loves the challenge. Russo is Catherine Banning, a clever insurance investigator who falls for him. And why not?  Crown wines and dines her in a style she would like to become accustomed to. He even promises her a classic painting she fancies. But is he acting like this to get her off the case? Obviously smitten by Catherine, Crown has questions of his own, including whether she is someone he can trust.

Supporting cast members Denis Leary and Faye Dunaway (!) have very little to do in this movie. Leary portrays a police detective, and Dunaway says a few lines as Crown’s psychiatrist. Most of the screen time is taken up with mildly interesting verbal sparring between the co-stars.

Fortunately, a couple of heist scenes liven things up considerably. Director John McTiernan uses his skill in helming Die Hard action flicks to create two exciting museum robbery sequences. (Be sure to pay special attention to briefcases and hats in these well-filmed scenes.)

Technical production values in The Thomas Crown Affair are first-rate. Its extravagant sets, fascinating locations, and lush background music represent top quality filmmaking. Morally, though, it doesn’t fare as well. Like Entrapment, this remake seems to glorify thefts by rich, attractive people. Who says crime does not pay for charming folks like Thomas Crown?

(Released by MGM and rated “R” for sexual situations, nudity, and strong language.)

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