January 22, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Those who may be rolling their eyes at Hollywood remaking another of its old chestnuts should fear not. ”It’s only nominally a remake,” says director John McTiernan of his take on The Thomas Crown Affair, a 1968 cat-and-mouse gem that featured Steve McQueen as a sleek bank robber and Faye Dunaway as the investigator on his trail. ”The characters have changed. The original Thomas Crown was a cold Boston blue blood,” explains McTiernan. ”Well, no one believes in blue bloods anymore. They’re all putzes. Now he’s self-made.” And he comes in the form of Pierce Brosnan, 46. Not everything from the old movie has been cast out: Dunaway, fortunately, is still on hand, now playing Thomas’ therapist. ”It’s a way of being respectful of the original,” McTiernan says.

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