Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 22, 2018)
Let's hear it for the old folks! In the 1999 remake of 1968's Thomas Crown Affair, stars Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo prove that one needn't be 22 and taut to spark some erotic chemistry on screen. These two work together spectacularly well and turn what could have been a mediocre project into something pretty exciting.
Super-wealthy Thomas Crown (Brosnan) finds little challenge to life, as he can purchase anything he wants and women flock to him. To add some zing to his existence, Crown decides to become an art thief.
When a Monet goes missing, insurance investigator Catherine Banning (Russo) gets on the case. This leads her to tangle with Crown – both professionally and romantically.
Affair won't be mistaken for an all-time great film, but the movie cranks along at a good pace. Director John McTiernan never quite recaptured the magic touch that he showed in the original Die Hard, but with a number of strong films under his belt - such as Hunt for Red October and Die Hard With a Vengeance - he proved himself to be a more than competent filmmaker.
Affair does nothing to diminish that reputation. McTiernan moves the film deftly and makes it proceed at a pace just fast enough to keep our attention but not so quick that it becomes a blur.
McTiernan doesn't seem able to deliver anything inspired or influential like Die Hard. Nonetheless, you can generally count on his name as an indication that a film will be professional and solid.
Pierce Brosnan's name above the title doesn’t offer a guarantee of quality, but he pulls out a good performance here. That said, I don't think he could have done this on his own, as the presence of an electric Rene Russo adds greatly to the film's allure and charge.
Russo literally never fared been better than she did in Affair, as she vamped up the screen. She became one of the movie’s highlights.
One other strong performance comes from Denis Leary, who doesn't play an abrasive wiseguy for once. While his character definitely displays a
"streetwise" edge, he's much more recognizably human than the average Leary persona.
Actually, Leary portrays the main character with whom the audience can identify, especially those guys who've been unable to compete with
a richer, better-looking romantic adversary. (Not that I'd be able to
relate, of course.)
But Leary's sweetly sympathetic performance is just the icing on the cake. No one will confuse The Thomas Crown Affair for a classic, but it's a nicely slick and freewheeling piece that kept me entertained and energized for most of its running time.
Footnote related to depressing realization: when I first reviewed this film in 1999, I thought Brosnan and Russo seemed ancient. Then 46 and 45, respectively, they were both a few years younger than I am now. What a drag it is getting old!