Variety - 03/25/1981
"...A slick crime-drama with a well-developed sense of pathos running throughout. James Caan comes up with a particularly convincing portrait of the central figure..."
Entertainment Weekly - 06/21/1996
"...An impressive debut for Mann's street-corner existentialism..." -- Rating: B
Total Film - 05/01/2000
"...THIEF remains one of the most accurate movies ever made about career criminals..."
A.V. Club - 01/15/2014
"Michael Mann's THIEF is one of the most confident directorial debuts of its era, the product of an unprecedented amount of research and preparation." -- Grade: A
After 11 years in prison, an aging master safecracker (James Caan) decides to pull one more job before retiring to a quiet, peaceful life. However, the mob finds him much too valuable and refuses to let him retire, keeping him trapped in the life he so desperately wants to leave behind. An introspective look at a man reevaluating the life he's lived, THIEF is a fascinating, intense film, based on the novel by Frank Hohimer.
In THIEF (based on the novel by Frank Hohimer), James Caan plays Frank, a top-notch jewel thief who has done his time in prison and now dreams of the good life. For him, that means a wife, kids, a house, and a car rather than a dangerous life of crime. However, by signing on to a final big-time heist for the mob, Frank unwittingly makes himself invaluable to his powerful underworld employers, who have no intention of letting him retire. Soon Frank finds himself trailed by both the mob and the police, unable to escape to the new life he so desperately wants. Continuing with his theme of people trapped in circumstances beyond their control, director Michael Mann creates a riveting, emotionally taut film that features an intense performance by Caan. With its outstanding action scenes, THIEF recalls such great heist films as TO CATCH A THIEF and THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR.
THIEF was the theatrical feature-film debut for Michael Mann, who had previously directed the television movie THE JERICHO MILE. He later went on to co-create and produce the hit television series MIAMI VICE.
Real-life jewel thief John Santucci was hired as a technical supervisor/consultant for the film. He plays bad cop Urizzi.
Producer Ronald Caan is the younger brother of star James Caan.
Giorgio Armani designed the selected wardrobe worn by James Caan.