Heat (1995)

Wow.  Director Michael Mann's epic crime story is an instant
qualifier for the category of "year's best."  The three-hour tale
of cops and robbers has been fashioned from the oldest of stories,
but Mann puts a provocative psychologist twist on it.  He focuses
on the *inner* lives of two obsessively driven men:  master thief
Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) and LA cop Vincent Hanna (Al
Pacino).  They spend almost the entire movie apart, an irony that
isn't lost on anyone before or behind the camera.  Pacino and
De Niro have never shared a scene together, despite starring as
father and son in THE GODFATHER, PART II.  When they finally meet,
in the middle of the movie, for an impromptu coffee-shop conver-
sation, it's a quiet moment of impressive magnitude.

Despite the implications of the punchy title, Mann's extended cat-
and-mouse chase is not about testosterone-poisoned action heroes.
These guys are just out to do their jobs; each more methodical than
maniac, or so they would rationalize.  They know they have a job to
do, and that some people might get hurt as a result.  (Such as
their women-- the wives, daughters, and girlfriends that the story
poignantly portrays.)  The overall tone is cool; perhaps too cool
for some.  The dolby-enchanced set-pieces, the ones most likely
shown in the ads, are few and far between.  A heavy-artillery
shoot-out on the downtown streets of LA is something to see,
though.  Mann, ever the thinking director, allows us to catch our
breath.  Just as he allows his characters their own moments of

The superior photography, by Dante Spinotti, is one of the many
technical credits that deserves Oscar recognition.  As he's shown
his two TV series "Miami Vice" and "Crime Story," Michael Mann is
no slouch on style.  Nor on substance.  He's written reasonable
roles for Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight (!), Val Kilmer, and Ashley
Judd.  The supporting players are an equally impressive lot.  The
whammo cast also includes Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Amy Brenneman,
Mykelti Williamson, Natalie Portman, and Tom Noonan.  And, since we
*are* in LA, both rocker Henry Rollins and rapper Tone-Loc wander
through for a scene or two.  (Rated R, 157m)

Grade: A

Copyright 1995 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies

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