The Good Thief


Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 37
  2. Negative: 1 out of 37

Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    Nolte's gambler-bandit Bob Montagnet is a triumph of imagination, touched with electric existential poetry.
  2. 90
    This long shot pays off -- in spades. Not only has Jordan made a movie that's looser, hipper, freer and -- abetted by his great cinematographer, Chris Menges -- more sheerly beautiful to look at, he's also made the best movie of his career.
  3. 90
    Nolte is not only made for the role, he's also rehearsed it in real life.
  4. 89
    One of Jordan's best films, and almost certainly in Nolte's top two percentile.
  5. There's a zest and brilliance in Neil Jordan's racy heist thriller The Good Thief that makes it almost intoxicating to watch.
  6. 88
    Nick Nolte plays a great shambling wreck of a wounded Hemingway hero in The Good Thief, a film that's like a descent into the funkiest dive on the wrong side of the wrong town.
  7. 88
    So smooth and satisfying it makes the similar "Ocean's Eleven" look like a game of three-card monte.
  8. 80
    The ultimate caper, a work of brazen ebullience.
  9. 80
    Indeed, The Good Thief is a fairy tale, not just in the plotted fun of the heist and counterheist, or in the clever twist thrown in at the end, but in the grandiloquent myth, so passionately espoused by Melville, of the crook as a man of honor and elegance.
  10. 80
    Melville's seedy characters and engrossing friendships are well preserved, thanks largely to strategic redeployment of his crisp dialogue. As revamped caper films go, this offers considerably more texture than Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's 11."
  11. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    For all the movie's pixilated transitions, fisticuffs, and hyper-alert climaxes at the roulette table, there's a kind of temperamental evenness that's perfectly in sync with the protagonist.
  12. Nolte’s charisma transforms Neil Jordan's The Good Thief from a vague, mildly exotic, character-driven caper flick to a soulful and engaging misadventure.
  13. Bob is a marvelous creation--a faker who is also the genuine article. He’s the perfect hero for a movie about the world as one big scam.
  14. Reviewed by: Eddie Cockrell
    Sure, it's all been done before, but seldom with this degree of vigor and panache.
  15. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    For a movie that earns its R-rating for drug content and violence atop language and sexuality, it leaves you with the next thing to a mellow smile.
  16. It's a nifty caper flick that also ponders the aesthetic nature of deception -- in other words, a solid work of craft that doubles as a little meditation on art.
  17. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The actor is magnificent -- ravaged, desperate, aware -- and no more so than in a scene toward the end when Bob's cardsharp cool finally breaks. It's a risky scene, the one note of corn, but Nolte brings it home. Too bad the movie doesn't.
  18. Cinema as jazz. More precisely, jazz traded by the likes of Charlie Parker, Billie Holliday, Chet Baker -- blurry, opiated, jagged with melancholy and stone cold beautiful.
  19. 75
    A sparkling exercise in movie cool.
  20. With his haggard good looks and bearish presence, Nolte is the main event in this colorful three-ring circus of a heist picture.
  21. Propelled by a soundtrack as diverse as its international gallery of thieves, Jordan's cheerfully scruffy neo-noir caprice even lays on the religious imagery with a palette knife and sweetens Melville's ending without seeming terminally sappy.
  22. 70
    Jordan invests attention in even the most throwaway moments and marginal characters, and his care makes the film a sustained, low-key pleasure.
  23. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    The Good Thief is too spindly and unconfident for an actor of this bulk, yet without him it would curl up and die. [7 April 2003, p.96]
  24. The trouble with all this is that it's thin movie tinsel that, while lovingly polished, never becomes more than tinsel. The Good Thief has a glib stylishness (the rapid freeze-frames at the end of scenes signify...nothing), yet it lacks a blast of reality to balance its fable.
  25. 67
    If The Good Thief isn't up to the work that inspired it, it's nevertheless fresh and distinct, a shot of citrus in a movie season far too often tasting of pablum.
  26. 63
    Lovers of drama featuring quirky characters will find things to appreciate.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 7
  2. Negative: 3 out of 7
  1. PaulP.
    Feb 16, 2007
    Muddled plot, confusing editing, ridiculously bad, cliched dialogue, pretentious soundtrack ! A supposed homage to French New Wave ? I'm Muddled plot, confusing editing, ridiculously bad, cliched dialogue, pretentious soundtrack ! A supposed homage to French New Wave ? I'm not a film student or even a film buff but if you want to see this sort of thing done well check out the film Diva from the early eighties. Full Review »
  2. PatC.
    Dec 2, 2005
    Had all the elements of a great zinger, but the assemblage was muddled and flat.