Heat (1995)

HEAT (1995) is a remake, but not of the underrated 1986 Burt Reynolds movie HEAT (which was later remade as WILD CARD) – it’s Michael Mann’s second try at the story he turned into his 1989 TV pilot L.A. TAKEDOWN. Which was good! This is better. A controversial statement, but I stand by it.

It’s possibly Mann’s best movie, and certainly ranks high among crime movies of the ‘90s (which is saying something), in my view a masterpiece of the genre. It has that rare quality of feeling like a sprawling epic and a simple, intimate story at the same time. Like a Sergio Leone movie in that one specific sense.

It is pretty simple, in the same way that MANHUNTER is. You’ve got these two men who are on opposite sides of the law, which makes their lives pretty similar. They respect each other’s professionalism but, unlike John Woo characters, would sooner shoot each other than be on the same side. Pretty early in the movie, famously – legendarily, really – they suddenly parley, have coffee together and talk about it, kind of warn each other but both seem to enjoy talking to somebody else who gets what it’s like to live that life. At the time the hype was about Robert De Niro and Al Pacino doing a scene together – two titans had not come together like this since Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT – but now that novelty has long since faded and the scene still feels monumental.

The thief, the guy who “takes down scores,” is Neal McCauley (De Niro, THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE), while the guy who chases guys who take down scores is Vincent Hanna (Pacino, THE SON OF NO ONE). McCauley strongly believes in that old school Jedi thing of not having attachments. You need to be able to drop your whole life in 30 seconds if the law comes. Some old con told him that and he repeats it all the time. Notably, nobody else he knows seems to follow that code, so it’s not the standard of the profession. It’s his own personal hang up.

Maybe it’s an excuse to avoid admitting that relationships are hard for violent people and adrenaline junkies. His closest partner Chris (Val Kilmer, DELGO) has a cool wife, Charlene (Ashley Judd, OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN), who’s tired of not knowing if he’s coming home or not, and also probly doesn’t like that he’s an abusive bastard, leaping over furniture at her and breaking things during tantrums. On the other side, Hanna’s wife Justine (Diane Venora, THE SUBSTITUTE) is really smart and hot, good at standing up for herself, and clearly frustrated that her husband only comes in briefly at random periods and won’t be emotionally open to her because he doesn’t want to be telling her about the fucked up crime scenes he’s coming from half the time. We see him comforting a murdered woman’s mother (Hazelle Goodman, TRUE IDENTITY) longer than we see him embrace Justine.

But McCauley meets a young woman named Eady (Amy Brenneman, CASPER) at the book store, he spends a night talking with her. Later, out to dinner with the crew, looking around at all their wives, he uncharacteristically decides to go ask Eady for a second date, and starts getting ideas, calling her his woman. She likes him too. Seems intimidated by him, though she thinks he’s a metal salesman.

Marriage probly isn’t the problem, but the family dinner turns out to have been a bad idea, because Hanna’s crew are on a roof across the street taking pictures, and McCauley was the one guy not already on their radar. Like Denzel wearing the fur coat to the boxing match in AMERICAN GANGSTER. But McCauley turns the tables in a great scene where he purposely gets followed by Hanna’s crew, gets them out in the open and takes pictures of them.

Holy shit, what a cast. I hadn’t watched it in quite a few years and of course I remembered many of the people who were in it, but more and more of them keep popping up. Along with De Niro and Kilmer in McCauley’s crew you got Tom Sizemore (PAPARAZZI) and Danny Trejo right around the time of DESPERADO, playing a character called “Trejo.” Kevin Gage (STEELE JUSTICE, G.I. JANE, CHAOS, LAID TO REST) plays Waingro, the psycho who turns an armored car robbery into a bloodbath for no reason, drawing McCauley’s ire but slithering away to cause other problems. Jon Voight (ANACONDA) plays their fence, Nate. Along with Pacino as Hanna you got an LAPD crew of Wes Studi (STREET FIGHTER), Ted Levine (THE MANGLER), Mykelti Williamson (MIRACLE MILE), and motherfuckin two-time World Kickboxing champion and inspiration for the movie THE DEBT COLLECTOR Jerry “Golden Boy” Trimble (THE MASTER, BREATHING FIRE, TERMINATOR WOMAN, STRANGLEHOLD, TODAY YOU DIE, GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS 2). We barely see him talk, but it’s amazing to see such a pure b-action legend walking around with Pacino in one of his best movies.

Also you got William Fichtner (VIRTUOSITY) as money launderer Roger Van Zant. You got Natalie Portman (who had only done LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL) as Hanna’s troubled stepdaughter Lauren. Dennis Haysbert (NAVY SEALS) plays Don, an ex-con who will become their backup driver after not so much enjoying working at a restaurant for asshole boss Bud Cort (INVADERS FROM MARS). Tom Noonan (MANHUNTER, COLLISION COURSE) as another crime associate. Hank Azaria (GODZILLA 1998) as a dude Charlene cheats with. Jeremy Piven (ONE CRAZY SUMMER) shows up as an underworld surgeon.

It just keeps going. In many ways it’s timeless, in others it’s the ultimate 1995 time capsule: appearances by Henry Rollins (JOHNNY MNEMONIC), Tone Loc (POSSE) and I guess Everlast (WHO’S THE MAN?). Amazing.

But that huge cast is mostly supporting these two lead characters going head to head. And along with a double character study it’s a double procedural. Like in THIEF, Mann shows us individual steps of preparation for a heist, knowing it’s way more interesting if we just get to watch it come together and figure out what they’re up to instead of have it explained to us too much. Meanwhile, we also see the steps of Hanna and his team trying to trace the path backwards from one heist to its perpetrators, then go forward to what their next one might be in order to catch them in the act. Making a profile based on the details of the opening armored car robbery, looking through databases for known felons who fit the criteria, pushing informants for tips, following hunches, surveiling suspects. Whichever crew I’m watching, I get invested and root for them to pull it off, but at least one side’s gonna have to lose. These guys are way too stubborn for a Toretto and O’Connor ending.

Honestly I feel bad for them being so much better at their jobs than living lives. I like the scene where Hanna comes to the apartment and Justine has a guy over, Ralph (Xander Berkeley, T2). So often Berkeley plays a sleaze – in fact he played Waingro in L.A. TAKEDOWN – but here he’s like oh, sorry man, I didn’t know she was married, I don’t want to be in the middle of this. Unfortunately Hanna has a gun and terrorizes him while giving him permission to “ball my wife.” And you just know that up to this point Ralph could not believe his luck scoring way out of his league with Justine. I think Mann made the right choice, but it would’ve got a big laugh if he cut to Ralph’s reaction when she says, “Now I have to demean myself with Ralph just to get closure with you.” Poor Ralph.

Eventually Hanna’s crew catches McCauley’s on the way out from a bank robbery, leading to the other legendary scene, the massive shootout on the streets of L.A. Like the diner scene, it still feels like a megablast even after a couple decades worth of movies aping its then groundbreakingly authentic feel. To me most of the best movie shootouts – your John Woos, your JOHN WICKs – have some grace, poetry and outlandishness to them. This one succeeds by going completely in the opposite direction. It’s all about the loud, deadly power of these weapons, the sheer madness of pulling one out and firing it in public, the absolute nightmarish barbarity of blasting those monstrosities in the middle of civilized society, thoughtlessly killing and maiming your enemy, while knowing you’re just as likely to blow away some random innocent person you didn’t even know was running by on the sidewalk or cowering behind a car that thing can cut through like a knife through butter. I’m sure the scene gives some people a boner, but to me it’s a rush because it’s so terrifying, so perilous, so inhuman it takes your breath away.

After the shells stop clinking and the smoke clears, the surviving combatants scatter, attempt to slip out from between the walls that are closing in on them, and still try to find time to fit in some relationship goals and side grievances. Hanna correctly bets on McCauley coming for revenge against Waingro before he skips town. Waingro is a great villain – going Mr. Blonde during the first robbery, scurrying away before McCauley can execute him in a diner parking lot, disappearing to the outskirts of the story but popping up long enough to reveal that he’s also a serial killer with Nazi tattoos. So at the end when McCauley blows everything by going to kill Waingro before leaving, we get it. Fuck that guy.

That’s one of the many highly potent scenes. Eady has learned the truth about McCauley, has started to get used to it, has somehow agreed to go on the run with him. They’re in the car headed for LAX, Nate calls and tells McCauley where Waingro is, and you look at his face as he sits there and tells himself no, I’m not that stupid, I’m home free, I did it, I’m getting away with it, I’m living happily ever after, not throwing it all away at the last second, and meanwhile you know for fucking sure that yes, he is that stupid, he can’t help himself, he’s gonna risk it all to try to kill this guy. Sure enough he abruptly swerves in traffic and tells her he just has to take care of this one last thing.

Poor Eady sits in the car outside the hotel with what I imagine is a knot the size of a football in her stomach, likely questioning her life-changing decision, definitely wondering why he’s taking so long, what the fuck he’s doing in there, why all these emergency vehicles are pulling up. I bet for half a second it’s oh no, are they gonna block us from pulling out? and then it’s oh shit, are they here because of him?

And then it’s the pivotal moment when McCauley’s made it safely out of the building and Eady is right there in the car but then he sees Hanna. Between everything set up and everything going on on the actors’ faces, without anyone saying a word, we’re sent on an emotional journey. We see McCauley doing exactly as he told Hanna he would – spotting him “coming around that corner” and knowing to “just walk out on her.” But we also see that it’s hard for him this time. He hesitates. And we see Eady – who has made such a huge leap of faith in learning he’s a criminal and agreeing to throw away her entire life to flee the country with him within, what, a day? – realizing holy shit, this motherfucker has the audacity to just ditch me!? And we feel the heartbreak but also a sense of relief on her behalf, whether or not she has any herself, because this is gonna be better for you in the long run, lady! You don’t want to be an international fugitive, you don’t want to live with a murderer, or you don’t want to see him get shot in a few minutes, or get yourself shot in the crossfire if you’re with him. This right here is the best possible outcome for you, I’m afraid.

Anyway, great job Michael Mann. I’m glad you got another chance to tell that story, to get it out of your system, get some closure on it once and for all. Unless you some day decide to write a sequel/prequel in the form of a novel and then adapt it into a film. And if that happens maybe it’s not out of the question to finally become a TV series some day. And then you will have finally made it.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 14th, 2023 at 11:43 am and is filed under Reviews, Crime. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

28 Responses to “Heat (1995)”

  1. Boy this is a good one. And I’ve enjoyed my personal journey of 11 year old who was really bored the first time I saw it to grown up adult who can enjoy this kinda pulpy but supremely satisfying piece of cinema.
    I alway thought it was funny that the only member of the crew to (seemingly) get away was the one who seemed like the biggest liability. I have a feeling it didn’t last for Chris though.
    Oh! And the score! Superb.

  2. “You need to be able to drop your whole life in 30 seconds if the law comes. Some old con told him that and he repeats it all the time. Notably, nobody else he knows seems to follow that code, so it’s not the standard of the profession. It’s his own personal hang up.”

    Got a great laugh out of this. It’s true!

    Also your take on the heist shootout on the street is spot on. It’s influential for this above all.

  3. The HEAT 2 novel is an interesting companion to not only this movie, but almost serves as a guidebook to pretty much Mann’s entire filmography from PUBLIC ENEMIES (Hanna’s father was around Chicago scrambling to make a living) right up to especially MIAMI VICE (movie) talk of vertically integrated criminal cartels and BLACKHAT’s fascination with code and electronics and high-tech etc. The novel also explain’s somewhat why (to my mind) Mccauley didn’t abandon Edie when he could have(after the shootout.)

    As a side note – Arrow Video just put out a new release of BLACKHAT, including a director’s cut, which greatly improves the movie, worth checking out. In my mind it makes the movie feel more like a Michael Mann film – once nice inclusion is a little expansion of Holt McCallany’s US Marshall character (a nice addition where he spots some tails and they avoid some surveillance etc.)

    Looking forward to FERRARI at the end of the year.

    Also on HEAT and the HEAT 2 novel – I found it interesting reading it and Tarantino’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. It felt like both novel’s were sort of an ultimate director’s cut for both of them – no budget restrictions/time restrictions etc., they could give us whatever they wanted, uncut. Not sure if other Vern acolyte’s (or Vern) have read them, but might make for an interesting discussion around these parts.

  4. The HEAT 2 novel incorporating so much of what fascinates Mann and what shows up in his other crime movies is a good observation. Something really notable is his fascination with the city of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. In MIAMI VICE (2006), that’s where the villain Yero is based, but we only see it briefly, basically Yero just takes a call there — but before they show him taking the call, there are a *lot* of establishing shots proving that they actually filmed there, showing off some of the eccentricities Mann writes about in HEAT 2, like the ubiquitous counterfeit goods, the streets and alleys flooded with Styrofoam and empty cardboard boxes, the mall guards openly brandishing assault rifles, etc. The climax of the MIAMI VICE movie was supposed to take place there, but it had to be rewritten to take place back in Miami because Jamie Foxx refused to leave the country. Clearly that’s unfinished business for Michael Mann.

  5. I was one of the 25 people who saw this during it’s theatrical run (I actually don’t know how it did at the box office, it just seemed that once it got out it was three hours long, and THE Pacino and THE De Niro only shared one scene, most people in my circle took a pass) and liked it, but didn’t really love it.

    I described it to people as “Bullitt–but following both sides of the situation–and no awesome car chase” which I was thinking even before the climatic tarmac chase. Mostly, because like Bullitt, it’s about the minutia of ‘the job’ rather than big set-pieces or whatnot (although Bullitt has a big set-piece anyway)

    And I dug it… It wasn’t perfect. The ’90s LOVED the ‘psycho asshole who fucks everything up for no reason so there’s a movie’ character, and this movie’s no different. Unfortunately, I think that character is laziness incarnate and Heat failed to convince me otherwise. Also, De Niro’s Jacqueline Bisset character is less convincing than the actual Jacqueline Bisset character, and there’s WAY more of her (like, way way way more). Shit like that.

    Of course, after six-seven years of hearing what an unassailable classic of 20th century cinema it was (by people that would get VERY excited as they tell you this fact) I rented it and gave it a re-watch. It’s cool, pretty good, etc. Could use an awesome car chase, though.

  6. Showed this to one of my budding-cineaste kids as a good example of a movie where everyone behaves intelligently and rationally, but realistically – nobody involved is a “ten steps ahead of everyone else” genius such as only occurs in movies, but also nobody does anything super dumb and out of character just to help the plot along.

    His favorite part of the movie? Pacino’s performance. Like, every move he makes, every line delivery. I’m not sure I agree with him there but it was fun to watch him dig Pacino so much in this when so many people make fun of how over the top he goes…

    For me the only real false note in this, as others have noted, is Waingro’s character. I actually don’t mind him as the out of control psycho who screws up the heist… (as opposed to Val Kilmer’s more in-control psycho)… I just have no idea why he also has to be a psycho killer too. Like, it’s enough for me that De Niro and co are furious at him; the “murdering women as a hobby” thing just feels unnecessary.

  7. This is one of my favorite movie going memories, because when I saw it in the theater, it got to the absolute apex of the movie’s entire climax- Sizemore running from the foiled robbery/shootout, grabbing the little girl as a hostage, and Pacino chasing him, pulling his gun, Sizemore turning in slow motion to see Pacino, both raising their guns, and… the film slows down even more until it freezes frames, warps, and the actual film melts off the projector- just like they do in the movies! I thought it was some intentional, avant garde editing thing, until the screen went dark, the lights came up, and some poor bowtie wearing teenage employee of the theater walked down the aisle nervously stammering an apology for the technical difficulties and doling out handfuls of free movie passes to the incredulous, angry audience members. We all got to move over to the next screen with a showing that had started an hour later, and watched the rest of the movie.

    The only other moment in my film and television watcher career that compares was watching season 5 episode 9 of THE WIRE (sorry for all those times I stereotypically gushed about it, I am watching Reservation Dogs in atonement for that now) when I had DVR’d it after it’s first broadcast earlier in the day, and I got to the scene where *that character (RIP)* was in the corner store buying a pack of Newports, and decided that was a good time for me to pause it to use the bathroom or something, and when I hit pause it froze on the exact frame of the squib going off to indicate that character’s brains had just been unexpectedly blown out. I just remember staring at the frame on screen for several minutes, perfectly paused, and trying to process what I was seeing with what felt like actual shock and almost real grief.

    Anyway. This review just made me relive that memory and I needed to share. Thanks guys, happy holidays! Keep up all the good work, fuckin love this sight.

  8. I love this movie. I watched a few months ago for the first time in years and it holds up great. Is this really Vern’s first time reviewing it? Surprising.

  9. In a heck of a coincidence, I just watched this film for the first time two days ago! I had seen some of the famous diner scene and shootout, but this was my first full viewing. It’s tough for a movie to live up to the amount of hype and praise I have heard for this one over the last 20+ years, thankfully I was not disappointed. I didn’t realize that this was Subplots: the Movie, but most of them worked for me and the sprawling cast is great, so I was never worried about getting back to the “action.” The bit where Waingro gets away from the crew feels pretty sloppy from these professionals, and the serial killer stuff did feel unnecessary. He’s a good creep, though. The movie makes you care and worry about the cops and the criminals, so it’s nice they give you two scumbags you are happy to see get theirs with Waingro and Van Zant (man Fichtner looks like he would be slick to the touch he is so oily in this movie). I was excited to see Dennis Haysbert’s name in the credits, then supremely bummed out by his fate. Then I thought, “well at least that means Trejo got away!” Nope.

    Here’s something I never really got from all the talk of this movie over the years: The famous scene where McCauley gives Hanna his whole speech about not having attachments and being willing to walk away from everything? He’s full of shit. I always assumed this was the kind of “manly men” movie that actually followed that philosophy, but McCauley is a goddamn romantic. Even before he falls for Eady, he plays marriage therapist for the Shiherlis’. Once Chris says he really does love Charlene and wants to be with her, McCauley makes it happen in his own fucked up way. He is willingly keeping a volatile member of his crew in a volatile relationship for love. Even at the end, when he has already ignored his supposed philosophy to take Eady with him, what causes his downfall? Revenge, driven by his attachment to and love for his crew. Hanna DOES pretty much live by that philosophy, he is unwilling to invest emotionally in his marriages and we don’t see anything that he really cares about outside of work. At the end it seems like he might try and change that, although that bit and Portman’s suicide attempt right beforehand didn’t quite work for me.

  10. I rewatched this one for the first time since high school because I planned on reading Heat 2, and I wanted to remember the characters and plot. And it does not disappoint. One revelation I had was the famous “Because she’s got a great aaaasssss!!!” scene. Pacino’s delivery is on point here, but we don’t talk enough about Hank Azaria’s reaction, which is also pitch perfect.

    The idea of Mann doing a sequel to Heat but in book form and then just called Heat 2 just sort of cracked me up. They couldn’t even summon up a colon and subtitle. So, I of course had to read it. And it was good! It added to the psychology of the characters. As others mentioned, it’s clearly chasing Mann’s usual obsessions. But I’m somewhat leery about a movie adaptation. It just doesn’t seem necessary. That’s not a problem if it’s a book. But I can’t see the story translating into a satisfactory film.

  11. As everyone has said, this is an extemely excellent movie, though not one I feel like revisiting very often. As mentioned, it’s kind of SUBPLOTS: THE MOVIE, and that’s not something I’m really in the mood for much of the time. It’s a very high-calorie meal that I feel like I gotta psych myself up for. I honestly don’t think I’ve watched this since the VHS days, though it made such an impression on me that it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I keep meaning to rewatch it. Maybe 2024 is the year.

    On that shootout: It’s an amazing scene, a real game-changer, for good and bad. The good is it brought back some realism and terror to the type of scene that is always in danger of becoming too glamorized and sanitized. The bad is that I think it gave a lot of bad filmmakers the wrong idea. The scene worked as well as it did not just because of the craft and style of the scene itself, but because it was in HEAT. You had all this quiet build-up that let you know all of the characters and their motivations so well, and then they let rip with those monstrous machine guns and you are fully aware of what’s at stake while being sort of awstruck and horrified at the pure viciousness these people you’ve come to know can be, while also fully understanding the psychology of that viciousness. You can’t just copy the aesthethics of that scene and plunk it into any old middle-of-the-road action potboiler and expect it to have the same effect. Directors say stuff like “I want you to feel like you’re in the middle of the action!” but most of that work in HEAT had been done long before the shootout. You’re in the middle of the action not just because of the sound and fury but because you’re in the characters’ heads. Too many directors took HEAT as an excuse to throw out clear action choreography and geography without doing the hard work of grounding us in the characters’ mindsets beforehand, and it led to a lot of sloppy action scenes that didn’t work psychologically OR as traditional action thrill rides.

  12. Agree. This is a pretty near-perfect film. I’m with Ben C.’s kid — Pacino rocks in this. Everyone does really great work. A great Val Kilmer role, as well — along with KISS KISS BANG BANG, it’s one of his best and last, best roles.

    Agree with Majestyk, as well. I lack the attention span or desire to revisit it often, but I’m glad I’ve seen it, and the hype is real.

    In conclusion: Hoo, ahh!!!

  13. 1995 was something of a breakthrough year for Fichtner, if breakthrough is the word to describe the step up in his career that year. He’s great in this, and also in STRANGE DAYS, and he fit nicely into the ensemble of VIRTUOSITY too. If I like STRANGE DAYS a little more than HEAT, that’d be an idiosyncrasy rather than an attempt to deny the greatness of HEAT. Having watched BULLITT a couple of times recently I have to agree the comparison is a fair one, although Mann isn’t really interested in any external political commentary. Sure, there’s no car chase, but that shoot out makes up for a helluva lot, and the airport foot chase is as solid as BULLITT’s.

    But if you’re making a serious heist movie, and not a caper, HEAT is the text you refer to; it’s influence is everywhere in the genre. Of course there’s THE DARK KNIGHT and THE TOWN, and that Gerard Butler movie, but see too the MESRINE movies or Benny Chan’s RAGING FIRE.

  14. Vern, I really do hate to be that guy, but can I ask again about THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS? I just know you’d find interesting things to say about it, and right now it’s the Daniel Day-Lewis-shaped elephant in the room sitting between L.A. TAKEDOWN and this.

  15. You can get killed just WALKING YOUR DOGGIE!

  16. After my above post, I had to fact check myself about it not initially doing very well, and I was correct. WB was promoting it as a Pacino vs De Niro steel cage acting death match, and released it at Christmas in hopes this no-hold-barred event would rake in the awards. But then the word got out via lukewarm reviews, and it ended up getting kind of lost between Toy Story and 12 Monkeys.

  17. Borg9 – I’m sorry to report that I have failed you. The reason I skipped it is because I was unable to find interesting things to say about it. I have no strong criticisms but did not love it, or understand the love for it, or find much of what I love about his other movies in it (though it did hook him up with Wes Studi).

  18. Borg, Heat is clearly a classic well made movie…but Strange Days IS better! To me at least for sure. What a flick.

    Saw Heat when it came out, and loved it. Never seen it again and from time to time think “hey I oughtta watch that one again, wasnt it really good?” But just never feel like it. Procedurals, of whch Heat basically is, are not the biggest thing for me. But seen Casino, which came out around the same time, about 147 times.

  19. I was DRAGGED to Last of the Mohicans and absolutely did not want to watch it. Looked liek a bad romance novel. But wow was I wrong. Well it sort of WAS a bad romance novel but it was still so well made and thrilling.

    Strange Days was actually another one that looked liek dogshit. Just one of those mid-90s cheap potboiler bores. It’s nice to be surprised.

  20. Heat is one of my absolute classic – I will re-watch it once a year. For me, it is a movie that gets everything right: amazing acting (as Vern pointed out, on top of DeNiro and Pacino, you have a bunch of amazing character actors there); great direction from M. Mann; great soundtrack… and some absolute classic scenes.

    As a fan of action movie, the shootout scene in downtown L.A. is so clear – you know where every character is. I love the fact that you can see in the background things happening. Few directors have that capacity to shoot action scenes with that level of clarity.

    I was also one who was not initially interested by the Last of the Mohicans but was really surprised by it – the last 15 min is another fantastic example of Mann’s skills with a good action sequence. I also love The Insider – the other Mann/Pacino collaboration – which seems today a bit forgotten, but really solid too.
    I would like to re-visit Miami Vice which i did not love when i saw it the first time… but maybe it is time to give it another chance?

  21. I figured being bedridden on a Saturday would be a good opportunity to fill a 3 hours long gap in my movie knowledge. And it’s good. It’s very good. Everything I don’t like about it is more my personal preference. For example I don’t like my complicated crime stories super serious. They need a Coen Brothers/Elmore Leonard/maybe even Guy Ritchie touch of quirkiness and dry humor to fully win me over.

    That said, I loved its dedication to the characters. For example we meet one character a good hour before he becomes relevant to the plot and learn something about him and his life, so when he ends up being cannon fodder, it’s actually tragic instead of a shrug. Compare that for example to Jon Hamm’s out of the blue heel turn in BABY DRIVER.

    But yeah, I’m also not too fond of the “one in the group is a psycho” cliche, especially when the group of gangsters is portrayed as real professionals who meticulously plan every detail of their heists. It’s one thing when they are some buddies who pull off their first crime out of desperation, but I can’t ever imagine that one of them would think “Hey, maybe we should actually give this guy a gun and assume everything will work out with him by our side.”

    Also I do wish the movie would’ve ended 30 minutes earlier. So many things in HEAT are not what other movies would do, so “The cop gives up and the robber rides into the sunset” would’ve fit right in. That it then ends with DeNiro walking blindly into a trap for petty revenge and Pacino being the only cop who actually knows where he is because he is able to draw a random connection from seeing a woman nervously waiting in a car, was a bit too un-HEAT for me.

    Shoutout to Michael Mann for using two Moby songs for extra dramatic effect in a time when the only people who actually cared about Moby were European rave kids.

  22. I mean, what else are you gonna do when you spot Det John Heat coming around the corner?

  23. Good call pointing out the music CJ, I forgot to mention that. This was my first time watching Heat, but I HAVE seen Thief before with its Tangerine Dream score. I was born in ’85 and got into Moby and electronic music in the late 90s, so it was cool to hear Mann keeping the same synth-y vibes but with (then) contemporary music that I was into. I haven’t listened to Moby in a long time, but when God Moving Over the Face of the Waters started playing at the end it gave me chills. Perfect choice to vibe-out the end of the movie.

  24. I always wondered if Pacinos character got into trouble afterwards for not arresting the gang when he had the chance. He litterally says he wants to wait till they commit a bigger crime and then they shoot half of LA to pieces.

  25. Some of Pacino’s over acting in the movie was intentional because in studying his character he decided that he was doing a lot of cocaine. Never depicted in the movie but that’s how he was approaching it.

  26. The Last of the Mohicans was my introduction to Michael Mann, so I have a real soft spot for it. Wes Studi’s Magua is one of the great villains of the 90s, partly because he’s kind of right. He deserved his revenge. And when the music kicks in and the dialogue drops out at the end, you know that shit is going to get real. It’s really an incredible score. I also have to give the film credit for having the father kill Magua instead of Hawkeye. It’s his son who Magua killed, and he’s should be rightly the one who gets payback. And you expect some big final act action set piece when they finally catch up with Magua, and nope. He’s just taken out swiftly and violently. What a film!

  27. Used to be more active a poster here but have mostly centered on letterboxd and other social media lately. I’ve gotten such joy from reading your work and that of the cast of characters that have made this place even more interesting to stick around for. That said I had to come back here for this and wasn’t disappointed at all to read your comments on the film, especially in the light of Mann’s recent activity and the ascension of this as a great movie, at least greater then in its reception the year it came out.

  28. Like CJ, I got sick – there’s a lot of it about, so stay safe – but I didn’t use the time off to rewatch HEAT, rather I caught up on Reacher and Donnie. But I wanted to say, I’m not some kind of MOHICANS superfan; HEAT, MANHUNTER and THIEF are my go-to Mann joints, but I do think THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS is genuinely interesting and, obviously, well made. And as others have said here the action at the end is powerful. I’m glad you got to HEAT however you could Vern, but never say never to THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.

    Re. the music, I think I said about my devotion to Shriekback, who appear all over the Mann-ography, in the MANHUNTER comments, but I think HEAT and THE INSIDER also have tracks from Einstürzende Neubauten. I think I love Blixa more when he’s a Bad Seed, but Einstürzende Neubauten are still one of the wildest live bands I’ve ever seen, and again kudos to Mann for using their music.

    Re. FERRARI, on the face of it ,this is a story that interests me very little, but am I going to miss a Mann movie written by Troy Kennedy Martin? I am not.

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