James Caan's emotional several-minute monologue with Weld in a coffee shop is often cited as the film's high point, and Caan has long considered the scene his favorite of his career. The actor liked the movie although he found the part challenging to play:
I like to be emotionally available but this guy is available to nothing."
Being Michael Mann's feature film directorial debut, Thief showcases many of the cinematic techniques that would be his trademarks in the years to come. Chief among these is the cinematography, utilizing light and shadow to give the proceedings, especially those taking place in the darkness of night, a sense of danger. The film also earns plaudits for its meticulous attention to detail: the tools and techniques of the trade, right down to the oxy lance used to penetrate a safe, are authentic, the result of Mann's decision to hire real-life thieves to serve as technical advisers.