Picks and Pans Review: Thief

updated 04/20/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/20/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

Although the title may conjure up images of Cary Grant suavely cat-burgling on the Riviera, forget it. True, this is the story of a professional diamond thief, but so much for similarity. The heists are all bloodless, businesslike affairs. Shot largely in Chicago, this film provides an unromantic look at the dealings and double-dealings of the underworld, and there is not one good guy. James Caan, in his best work in several years, plays the title character with a steely single-mindedness. Tuesday Weld is excellent as his wife, the only vulnerable person in the movie, though her relationship with Caan is slighted, as is every other personalizing quality in the film. (Willie Nelson appears briefly in a curious cameo as a master thief.) Writer and director Michael Mann, whose previous credits include the Emmy Award-winning prison film with Peter Strauss The Jericho Mile, has a strong, sure hand, and Thief s pounding pace is accentuated by Tangerine Dream's pulsating score. This is a powerful piece of moviemaking, lacking just one vital ingredient—heart. (R)

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