The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 2.35:1 16x9 enh, Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - John McTiernan (Director)
Running Time
108:38 minutes
(not 113 minutes as stated on the packaging)
Other Extras Featurette-The Thomas Crown Affair: The Making Of The Master Piece (23:53)
Promotional Music Video-Windmills Of Your Mind-Sting
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (70:38)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection then Menu
Region 2,4 Director John McTiernan

Fox Home Video
Starring Pierce Brosnan
Rene Russo
Denis Leary
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Bill Conti

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English For The Hearing Impaired
German For The Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement Yes, not much, but one particular instance is incredibly annoying.
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    The Thomas Crown Affair is a remake of the 1968 movie of the same name, with some changes and updates to the story. It is a very stylish movie, but really does fall very short on substance.

    Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan) is a wealthy financier with little in his life that challenges him. He wants for nothing, so for kicks he decides to plan the perfect robbery from a New York Art Museum. A very stylish but improbable theft sequence follows, during which a Monet worth $100 million dollars is stolen from the museum.

    The insurance underwriters have no desire to pay out for the theft of this painting, and so they send Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) to locate the painting. Somehow, the FBI investigator in charge of this investigation (Denis Leary) simply allows Catherine complete access to the investigation. Indeed, she is the one that predominantly figures out the why, how, who and wherefore of this crime.

    An attraction develops between Thomas and Catherine, and the remainder of the movie consists of a three-way cat-and-mouse game between Thomas, Catherine and the FBI, all very stylishly executed on-screen.

    This movie's fundamental failing, however, lies in the excessive leaps of faith required on the part of the viewer. Some of the happenings that occur on-screen are just so ludicrous that they ruin any chance for suspension of disbelief, leaving us only with a moderate interest in the actual outcome of the movie.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. It falls just short of reference quality.

    The transfer is very sharp and clear. A lot of the early part of the movie takes place in very darkly-lit areas and these are rendered very well by this transfer. Indeed, shadow detail throughout the entire movie is excellent, with a tremendous amount of subtle detail visible. There is no low level noise.

    Something that should receive specific mention is that this transfer frequently exhibits lens flare, as the camera looks directly into one light or another. This was a deliberate artistic choice by the director John McTiernan in order to capture a certain retro feel for the movie. Personally, I thought it was more distracting than anything else, but as it was present in the original, this is not a transfer artefact.

    The colours were all very well and vibrantly rendered. There is a large variety of locations on show here, all of which are beautifully depicted, with lush greens, deep browns and vibrant blues all on display.

    There were no MPEG artefacts visible in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of a number of scenes which exhibited moderate aliasing. These detracted from the overall quality of the transfer, which was a pity. Film artefacts were extremely rare.

    This DVD is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 70:38, between Chapters 28 and 29. It is actually quite a lengthy layer change and quite noticeable on my Toshiba 2109, though it is well-placed which makes it a little more tolerable. Indeed, this is one of the longest transitions I have ever seen for a layer change, lasting a good proportion of one second in time.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1.

    Dialogue was always easy to understand and clear.

    There were no audio sync problems noted with this transfer.

    The musical score for this movie was provided by Bill Conti, probably better known for his scoring of the movie Rocky. I mention this because the score for this movie is in a very similar and recognizable style for Bill Conti - these days it sounds a little dated, but it certainly sounded very stylish, in keeping with the rest of the movie.

    The surround channels were not heavily used. Music featured prominently in the surround mix, but there were few ambient sounds and special effects that made their way into the rear soundscape. Overall, the effect was only moderately enveloping.

    The subwoofer got plenty of use to support the music, with a great deal of bass provided by the .1 channel at times. Indeed, it was almost too much at times, with the subwoofer occasionally calling attention to itself.


    This disc has a good selection of extras, though their quality is variable.


    This features extensive animation and audio of the main menu, though the remainder of the menus are not animated. The menu is 16x9 enhanced. Even so, it actually suffers from quite a lot of aliasing which is quite distracting. Additionally, the menu is very sluggish to respond to menu selections and you are left wondering whether or not you have actually successfully selected a given option before you eventually get a response back.

Audio Commentary - John McTiernan (Director)

    This is a pretty ordinary effort, truth be told. John McTiernan speaks infrequently and monotonously, and only limited insights into the movie are given. I must say that this is one commentary that really is not worth listening to.

Featurette-Making Of

    The Thomas Crown Affair - The Making Of The Masterpiece is a reasonably interesting 24 minute featurette which compares and contrasts the two versions of this movie and discusses some of the choices made. It is worth watching once.

Promotional Music Video - Windmills Of Your Mind - Sting

Theatrical Trailer


R4 vs R1

       The Region 4 version misses out on;     The Region 1 version misses out on;     This reasonably decent featurette probably tips the balance slightly in favour of the R4 version, but not by a lot.


    The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) is stylishly presented, but ultimately lacks substance.

    The video quality is very good, and of near-reference quality.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are passable.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
19th February 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Orion DVKT and Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer