Thief

Thief ★★★★½

I still can't believe how much confidence emanates from this considering it was Mann's film debut. I'd argue he is in a tiny minority of directors who are able to successfully explore the same ideas throughout their careers, always managing to recontextualise them to perfectly fit the story at hand. James Caan's Frank is possibly his most unrestrained lead character, someone who absolutely refuses to compromise his belief system even if it means he has to burn down everything he has tried so hard to build. He exists in a neon soaked world of seediness where the line between good and bad is constantly blurred. Mann's late-stage capitalism critique is potent; deep down how different is Leo from any boss when he literally tells Frank that he owns the paper on his whole life and wants him to work until he is burned-out or when he denies Frank the pay he has earned in order to ensnare him in his criminal corporation.

I must also add that I never realised how good the dialogue is here. All the talk about backends, pinching and exposure gives me a kick every time.

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