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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.52%
Worth A Look76.09%
Average: 13.04%
Pretty Bad: 2.17%
Total Crap: 2.17%

6 reviews, 10 user ratings

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Good Thief, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"If you're casting a Good Thief, you better get a Good Actor."
4 stars

I could care less about drug raps or unflattering mug shots; Nick Nolte is a personal hero. Few actors will command my ass in a theater seat like Nolte does, and his latest should prove a huge treat to those who feel the same. Leading man side, here's some more good news: this one's actually a tight and moody little crime thriller, one that should absolutely entertain two parents out on one of those all-too-rare 'babysitter nights'.

There's a long list of "non-A-list, but better" actors; guys like Jeff Bridges, Dennis Quaid and Robert Duvall. Actors you spend your entire life getting to know in various roles, and they're always welcome when they pop onscreen. Nolte's certainly one of these fellas, and the amiable lug's been known to salvage more than one mediocre flick through sheer talent.

Yes, the now-aged and seasonably weathered Nolte is back and fortunately for all involved the guy is involved in a flick worthy of his superlative leading role. Neil Jordan's The Good Thief, a remake of Jean-Pierre Melville's Bob le flambeur, is a crafty, seedy and altogether moody crime drama, one overloaded with interesting characters and exotic locales. As a heist flick, The Good Thief may indeed be nothing new under the sun, but there's always something to be said for retreads that manage to be quality retreads.

Bob Mantagnet (Nolte) is a aging heroin addict and degenerate gambler who spends whatever life he has left in Nice. Though his old police detective nemesis (Tcheky Karyo) is seemingly always on the lookout, Bob and his few loyal cronies are constantly eying up new scam opportunities. Starting with the arrival of a waifish and naive young streetwalker, Bob and Co. find themselves caught up in a massive plan to steal 24 of the world's most priceless artworks from a Monte Carlo casino.

Needless to say, things go more than a little astray.

Neil Jordan is on-again off-again where my movie tastes are concerned, so it was about halfway through The Good Thief before I realized how much I was enjoying it. The French landscapes make for a suitably dank and urgent backdrop, Bob's tangle with his needle fixation is presented unpleasantly though briefly (as this isn't really a film about drug addiction), the screenplay wedges a few solid surprises in between the 'surprises' I kinda saw coming, and the cast is uniformly strong across the board - save for the fragile Nino Kukhanidze (as the potential femme fatale) who seems out of her league playing opposite rascals such as Nolte and Karyo.

Offering a superb supporting role is Said Taghmaoui as Paulo - Bob's partner and apprentice in crime. Best remembered for his fantastic performance as the soldier who jams crude oil down Mark Wahlberg's throat in Three Kings, Taghmaoui is a young guy to keep an eye on. One can only hope he's not destined for a career full of 'evil terrorist' roles opposite whatever action star happens to come down the pike.

Parts of The Good Thief are a bit arid and dry, and Jordan has this bizarre obesession with freeze-framing the tail-end of many scenes (a bizarre conceit which adds nothing to the film), but the gripes are minor when compared to Nolte's command performance and the overall desperate intensity of the heist at hand.

This one may be not much more than "Heist Flick Version 5" but it's an entertaining one nonetheless. With a lesser actor in the lead role, the whole thing may have crumbled entirely. Fortunately Nick Nolte IS on hand and his powerful presence is the glue that keeps The Good Thief from ripping apart at the seams.

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originally posted: 04/09/03 16:11:38
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/27/09 Shaun Wallner Very Entertaining! 4 stars
10/10/05 Agent Sands Actually, it's one of the greatest heist movies and film noir ever made, I think. 5 stars
6/06/04 The More You Know Scrapes some new ideas, however convenient, from the bottom of the caper jar. 4 stars
6/03/04 Agent Sands Really cool. The ending is actually great if U follow. Good comeback 4 Nolte & Jordan. 4 stars
4/26/04 Denise Duspiva Did anyone else wonder why they all liked that girl? 4 stars
7/26/03 John Bale A new gravelly Nolte excells in Neil Jordans classy heist. Good return for both. 4 stars
5/28/03 Chris I't really sucked. MWAHAHAHAHA 1 stars
5/05/03 poetchuck Great movie 5 stars
4/16/03 Andrew Carden Nick Nolte Makes One Hell Of A Comeback In This Movie. 5 stars
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  02-Apr-2003 (R)
  DVD: 01-Feb-2005



Directed by
  Neil Jordan

Written by
  Neil Jordan

  Nick Nolte
  Tchky Karyo
  Nino Kukhanidze
  Sad Taghmaoui
  Ouassini Embarek
  Ralph Fiennes

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