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The Thomas Crown Affair

THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR
Rated R for some language and sensuality
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Rene Russo, Dennis Leary and Ben Gazzara

CineSight Rating ** 1/2

When a valuable Monet painting is stolen from a New York City museum, insurance investigator Catherine Banning (Russo) is called in to work alongside the detective on the case (Leary). She soon begins to suspect wealthy financier Thomas Crown (Brosnan) of being the perpetrator. So begins the cat and mouse chase between Banning and Crown, an elaborate, choreographed chess game. At first this is limited to teasing one another in an "I know who you are and what you're doing" manner. But soon things become complicated as a romance develops. Ultimately, Banning has to make a tough choice: will she turn Crown over to the cops as a thief, or will she become an accessory to the crime?

Coming hard on the heels of this year's earlier rich art thief movie starring a James Bond actor - ENTRAPMENT - could have hurt THOMAS CROWN, but thankfully the two are quite different. While ENTRAPMENT was a whiz-bang action caper, CROWN focuses on the more complicated relationship between cat and mouse. It is really a romantic drama, more than a caper.

Director John McTiernan (DIE HARD) has downplayed the action sequences in favor of the character tensions. A good idea, that pays off most of the time. There are still a couple of interesting 'caper' scenes that act as bookends to the relationship, but much of the film focuses on the extravagent courtship. Don't expect a lot of twists and surprises. The plot is quite straightforward, but the solid characters keep things entertaining.