Heat is a Pretty Cool Classic
Michael Mann is one of those directors that the average person would hear the name and go..."I think I know of him, but I'm not sure." But when you mention one of Mann's films, they will say: “Ok, that was a great movie." Michael Mann is a film treasure, and on this review, I will revisit his classic crime drama: (Heat), which he also wrote by the way, now celebrating its 20th anniversary. Recently a forum and discussion on this movie was held, with director: (Christopher Nolan) as the moderator, along with (Mann) (Al Pacino) and (Robert De Niro). It was fascinating to watch as (Nolan) who is a huge fan of the movie, quizzed them on the process of making this brilliant piece of filmmaking. It is no small coincidence, that Nolan’s masterpiece: (The Dark Knight) shares a very similar style with Manns. It is also interesting to note, that Pacino’s high strung volatile detective: Vincent Hanna in (Heat) is very close to the one he would play a few years later in Nolan’s excellent remake of: (Insomnia).
(Robert De Niro) plays: Neil McCauley, high stakes, intelligent bank robber, who spent a stint in the joint years earlier. Neil has vowed he will never go back, and he is meticulous in his preparation for a hit, rolling with mostly the same crew, as he knows them well and how they do their job. He is a pro, and his crew: Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore) and Trejo (Danny Trejo) trust Neil.
The beginning of the film has them prepping for a big hit on an armored truck carrying bonds owned by a sleazy investor: Roger Van Zant (William Fichtner who is playing someone close to the character he plays in The Dark Knight). This is not a coincidence I suspect. They enlist the help of one other man: Waingro (Kevin Gage), who seems a bit sketchy to say the least. The opening heist, along with the buildup, is efficient and brilliantly crafted by Mann. You are engaged immediately about this tale being told in the streets of LA. When something goes wrong in the holdup and guards are killed by Waingro, this now becomes a robbery and homicide, which brings in Vincent and his crew to investigate.
(Pacino) is a bit like (Jack Nicholson) in later years, kind of playing the somewhat same guy in his movies, but his efficiency and command are undeniable. Watching him plow through his first scene at the aftermath of the robbery gone bad, is like watching a great dance. It also suits his character well, as Vincent is a man who does one thing very well: catch bad guys. The rest of his life he leaves in tatters, and his latest relationship with his spouse: Justine (Diane Verona) and her young troubled daughter: Lauren (Natalie Portman) is already showing major wear at the beginning of the film. It only gets worse.
As Vincent surveys the carnage, he knows that this crew is different, and he makes this and his men, the new case. His partners, like De Niro's, are all top notch. This is another one of Mann's strong points is getting the right actors for his movies. The standouts are the always great: Bosko (Ted Levine) and Casals (Wes Studi).They run around making standard police movie stuff more interesting because of their presence. So we have a heist that goes wrong, a very good crew leaving little for the authorities and a smart bunch of cops getting ready to hunt them down. The game of cat and mouse is on. Watching this fabulous movie again, I couldn't think of one thing where it slips or fails to keep you riveted. Mann is master of the frame, and he finds beauty sometimes, where you wouldn't normally see it. His other strong gift, from early on in his career, is his ear for the music in his films. Many times it is very subtle, but it is always important. The great ones understand this element, as opposed to so many who don't and may even consider it filler.
The women in Mann's film get the short end of the stick. Chris's wife: Charlene (Ashley Judd), is also tired of his act with the gambling and going nowhere. She has started to look elsewhere for companionship, even though Chris loves her dearly; he's just shitty at showing it.ilove how subtle and laid back (Kilmer) is in the role. It isn't showy, but he is great playing this lost soul. This is also shown with Neil, who is always 30 seconds from leaving everything behind if he feels the heat on him. One day at the library where he is looking at a book on metals, preparing to break into a safe on a new job, a young woman notices him. Later, at a coffee shop, the woman: Edy (Amy Brenneman) tries to talk to Neil, but he brushes her off rudely. When he notices how she reacts, he apologizes, and they begin a relationship. Edy is a struggling graphic artist out here alone, and at least they have that connection. (Brenneman) is very good at showing Edy as a bit of an innocent. Neil likes her, but knows that this compromises him, as it adds another tie that he might have to cut.
When Neil meets up with his men and the careless Waingro at a diner to square up the money, we learn that they are going to kill Waingro. They are all pissed at what he did, and they want him dead. When the police cruise by, just as they are about to off him, they have to stop, just long enough for him to get away. Now, Waingro is out there, madder and crazier then ever, and he knows who they are and what they did. That's a problem.
Neil's guy who sets up his scores and cashes his money: Nate (an excellent Jon Voight) lets him know where to meet with one of Van Zant's guys to get the money for the bonds which they just stole from the truck. Van Zant was insured for the money but is still pissed at getting robbed. He wants revenge. Nate also tells him about a future job, with a huge payout which could make Neil comfortable for the rest of his life.Neil meets: Kelso (Tom Noonan) a crippled computer whiz, who tells him about a bank where lots of cash comes in each week, and he can program the computers to shut down all alarms, so his men can get the cash fairly easy. It could be 10 million. He takes the job.
Meanwhile, Vincent and his crew start to piece together the armored truck job, and who were the particulars involved. The heat is coming.I will also point out the famous, first-time scene together between (De Niro and Pacino) at the restaurant between these heavyweights of acting, as it is an important and moment in the movie for its characters as well as historic. These two strong men, on opposite sides of the law, will meet their goal, and neither one will stop the other one in reaching it. It is a classic and you will want to watch it again and again.
I can't stress enough how well this film is written and presented. The storyline is gripping, the acting is great, and Mann's flawless execution makes this one of the all-time great films of this genre.They should show this in film school. It made me want to watch another Mann film.
You should see this classic movie
watch the trailer: