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THIEF, an FX original series - Premieres March 28 10:00PM (Jerome A. Holst © 2006)

Back in 1981, Michael Mann (of Miami Vice fame), directed a film called "Thief" starring James Caan as Frank, an ex-con turned Chicago used-car salesman by day and professional safecracker and jewel thief by night.

Well, apparently, someone at the FX network decided to pay homage to this great crime thriller by commissioning a new crime drama entitled THIEF. Starring Andre Braugher, the show follows the exploits of New Orleans-based Nick Atwater, a classic car salesman by day and a thief during his off hours.

Andre Braugher - THIEF
Braugher as Nick Atwater

Both film and TV characters aspire for one last heist that will leave them sitting pretty so they can leave their life of crime behind. Caan's character makes a deal with the Italian mafia to pull off one last bank job so he can retire from the profession, marry his sterile girlfriend and make a family with a black market child procured by the mob.

Braugher as Nick, plans a $40 million airline heist so he can score big, scrap the facade of living a dual life as both businessman and thief and finally enjoy his life and his Caucasian wife, Wanda (who doesn't know about her husband's illicit sideline).

Unfortunately, Wanda dies in a car accident and leaves behind her 14-year-old daughter, Tammi Deveraux (Mae Whitman) who is also in the dark about Nick's criminal past. But soon after her Mom's death, Tammi sees Nick kill one of his cronies and she quickly begins to suspect something's up with step dad.

Also on Nick's plate is Vincent Chan (Will Yun Lee), a Chinese mobster who is intent on retrieving certain monies stolen by Nick during his latest exploit in San Francisco. Oh yeah, there's also Detective John Hayes (Michael Rooker), a crooked cop under investigation with Internal Affairs who gets wind of Nick's plan for a big heist and wants to cut himself in on the deal.

Nick and Crew Crack a Safe
Nick and his crew cracking a safe

While the film "Thief" portrays Caan's character Frank as a loner, the FX series makes Braugher's Nick the leader of a crew of criminals. They consist of Elmo "Mo" Jones (Malik Yoba), a father of five; Gabriel "Gabo" Williams, Nick's oldest friend whose having an affair with Lila Granville; Jack "Bump" Hill (Clifton Collins, Jr.); and Izzy Driscoll (Clayne Crawford), the crew's drug-addicted computer wizard. Rounding out the bunch is Roselyn Moore (Linda Hamilton), Nick's fence and long-time partner in crime.

Frank Cracks a Safe
Frank cracks a safe

At the end of the film "Thief", Frank learns you can't quit the mob and so his dream of a quiet domestic life is shattered. Will Braugher's Nick find a similar fate? Or will Nick attain his dream of a life of luxury, be a good father to Tammi and bid bye-bye to a life of crime? Well, for that, you'll have to stay tuned each week to see for yourselves what happens as Nick and his crew as they try to balance their family life and their troubles with the cops and the Chinese mob.

Bottom line: If you're the type of person who can overlook the fact that the stars of the show are criminals (a la The SOPRANOS), the premise looks promising.

And if you like Linda Hamilton, well it doesn't matter what she's doing, just as long as she gets enough screen time to satisfy the lusty gazes of her many fans.

THIEF the TV series premieres on March 28 at 10:00PM on the FX Channel.

When you get a chance, don't forget to rent a copy of the 1981 film "Thief" (Michael Mann's first feature film) and watch James Caan in the prime of his life. It still a great film after all these years.

NOTE: Both TV series and film aimed for authenticity. The TV series used former thief and ex-con Mike Carlin as a consultant. The storyline is loosely based on an actual Canadian gang who planned to steal millions of dollars from the US Government.

The screenplay for the film "Thief" was adapted from the novel "The Home Invaders", written by Frank Hohimer, himself a professional thief. For authenticity, Mann hired real life thieves for the film. Heist tools were supplied by professional thief John Santucci. "Thief" opened on March 27, 1981.

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NOTE:  This article may be linked for distribution to other Internet publications with the agreement that you credit the article to the author, Jerome A. Holst

 

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