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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Thief [Blu-ray]


(Michael Mann, 1981)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Mann/Caan Productions

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #691



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:04:41.474

Disc Size: 43,728,410,092 bytes

Feature Size: 35,493,795,840 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.48 Mbps

Chapters: 31

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: January 14th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3314 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3314 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps



English (SDH), none



Audio commentary featuring Mann and actor James Caan
New interviews with Mann (24;18), Caan (10:39), and Johannes Schmoelling of the band Tangerine Dream (15:40), which contributed the film’s soundtrack
Trailer (1:53)
One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both formats
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Nick James




Description: The contemporary American auteur Michael Mann burst out of the gate, his bold artistic sensibility fully formed, with Thief, his debut feature. James Caan stars, in one of his most riveting performances, as a no-nonsense ex-con safecracker planning to leave the criminal world behind after one final diamond heist, but discovering that escape is not as simple as he hoped. Finding hypnotic beauty in neon and rain-slick streets, sparks and steel, Thief effortlessly established the moody stylishness and tactile approach to action that would also define such later iconic entertainments from Mann as Miami Vice, Manhunter, and Heat.



The Film:

In Thief, James Caan plays Frank, a professional jewel thief who wants to marry Jessie (Tuesday Weld) and settle down into a normal life. In order to achieve his dream of a family, Frank--who is used to working solo--has to align himself with a crime boss named Leo (Robert Prosky), who will help him gain the money he needs to begin his domestic life. Frank plans to retire after the heist, yet he finds himself indebted to Leo and he struggles to break free. Thief is the first feature film from director Michael Mann and it seethes with his stylish, atmospheric direction. Though his cool approach may put off some viewers, it's a distinctive and effective story-telling approach, and Caan's performance ranks among his very best, making Thief a crime movie like few others.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

A silently professional night-time jewel robbery, reduced to near-abstract essentials and paced by a Tangerine Dream score, sets the electric tone for Mann's fine follow-up to The Jericho Mile: a philosophical thriller filled with modernist cool. Caan's the thief, contradictorily building and risking a future mapped out as meticulously as any of his lucrative hi-tech jobs; testing his emotional and criminal independence to the limits; eventually recognising that he's either exercising or exorcising a death wish.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Thief on Blu-ray from Criterion looks highly advanced and superior compared to the original non-anamorphic SD many have owned for almost a decade. This is advertised as a "New digital restoration from a 4K film transfer of the director’s cut, approved by director Michael Mann".  The image has some teal-leaning but most colors seem true with the welding and fire sequences looking impressively bright.  This is dual-layered with a high bitrate and we can guess that it is a solid representation of the film with a hint of grain. Contrast is strong and supports some excellent detail. It is in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio They are infrequent examples of depth. This Blu-ray has no discernable flaws and supplies a very pleasing 1080P presentation.


















Audio :

Criterion advance the film's rich aura with a stellar DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at a healthy 3314 kbps. There are some impressive separations but the film benefits greatly from Tangerine Dream score's lossless rendering. The German (Berlin School) electronic music group's unique sound establishes dark moods that mirror Mann's noirish underbelly visuals. For fans of the film this is, perhaps, even more impacting than the HD image. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.


Extras :

Criterion include the, sometimes awkward, audio commentary featuring Mann and actor James Caan recorded in 1995 and found on past DVDs. I found it informative, if less polished - which is probably appropriate as the film always has an air of vérité realism. There are some new, 2013, interviews with Mann - discussing the production and his memories of for almost 25-minutes, James Caan similar for over 10-minutes including a focus on preparation for his character, and 15-minutes of Johannes Schmoelling of the band Tangerine Dream (in German with English subtitles), which contributed the film’s soundtrack. There is also a trailer and the package contains both Blu-ray and a DVD, with all content available in both formats as well as a booklet featuring an essay by critic Nick James.



Great, and memorable, film from the 80s. Thief remains edgy, focusing on a resilient, uncompromising, protagonist, and the soundtrack is unique and highly impressive - especially in the lossless rendering. Criterion's Blu-ray package offers some new interview supplements and a solid 1080P image of a highly re-watchable film. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

December 31st, 2013


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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