Heat

Obsessive master thief, Neil McCauley leads a top-notch crew on various daring heists throughout Los Angeles while determined detective, Vincent Hanna pursues him without rest. Each man recognizes and respects the ability and the dedication of the other even though they are aware their cat-and-mouse game may end in violence.

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  • ★★★★ review by Mike D'Angelo on Letterboxd

    74/100

    "Three hours was the wrong running time for this movie," began my negative "review" 18 years ago, just a few months after I launched my site. "It should have run either 90 minutes, or seven hours." That I somehow failed to appreciate the rampant awesomeness on display here boggles the mind; for all his idiocy, though, younger me did have a point, if not yet an available countermodel. Today, Heat looks like a hugely condensed season of first-rate television, with the sprawling narrative and multi-character arcs we now associate with that medium. (See also: Contagion.) Bump it up to 10 or 12 hours on HBO and the material that currently feels thin—Kilmer and Judd's rocky marriage, Portman's depression, Fichtner's desperate machinations, the whole Waingro-as-serial-killer thing (which goes nowhere at all; I guess it's just there to make us reallllly hate him)—would have a chance to breathe. As it stands, there's a disjunction here between Mann's expansive attention to detail and his mythmaking instincts. The mano-a-mano finale, in particular, is superbly movie-ish (as opposed to "cinematic," though it's that too), heightened in a way that sacrifices credibility for poetry; it's dazzling in a vacuum, but it also undermines the unemphatic realism Mann favors between setpieces. Still, none of this is even remotely fatal, as I apparently believed at the time. And maybe it's the subsequent two decades of lazy mugging retroactively influencing me, but I can't fathom why I was underwhelmed by De Niro back then; his Neil is the blatant apotheosis of Mann-hood, a preternaturally self-contained loner for whom even passion is a sort of job description. (I also recognized this time that Hanna's outbursts—"cause she's got a GREAT ASS"—are usually the character performing to intimidate, not just Pacino hamming it up for no reason.) File this one alongside Trust and High and Low in my ever-growing "was blind but now I see" folder. (Also wrote up one scene for a Scenic Routes column.)

  • ★★★★★ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd

    100/100

    A cinema of gestures, large and small, elongated and fleeting, carried through the whispering winds of an epic. Just observe the way Neil moves over near Eady after introducing himself, or how Charlene signals Chris about the sting by swiping her hand against the sharp metallic railing. Watch as Hanna picks up his dying stepdaughter with the utmost fragility, innocence lost and drowned by blood. See Neil's gentle plea towards Eady as she runs away from LA's shimmering atmosphere, the modern smog and neon colliding amongst the cosmos, his plan lost without her presence, her eyes, her beauty. Stare - mouth agape - as a police squad and a gang of bank robbers wage war on the asphalt, wounded soldiers carried like brothers; honor, duty, respect on both sides. Witness a sprawling tale visualized through passing trains, deafening gunshots, romantic and broken embraces, clasped hands. Notice Mann's attention to design; cool frames providing spaces for all shapes and peoples, its haze engulfing crowds and machinery stoic within the untamed landscape. Behold its hushed conclusion; gods lost among the world in which they were raised, patterned cubes "grown" along weeds and fields, engines roaring to life. The dawn of a new era but the death of Man, shadows rising like ghouls in the night, toxic beams of light illuminating friendship and apocalypse.

  • ★★★★★ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd

    imagine living in a world where

    Michael Mann didn't form a new

    conception of L.A. Takedown.

    actually, don't...

    don't imagine that;

    it's not worth it.

  • ★★★★★ review by Milez Das on Letterboxd

    Two professionals seat across from each other at a coffee place. They bond over their personal problems. Vincent talking about his marriage failures due to work and his stepdaughter. Neil talks about his alone life and not getting attached to someone you are not willing to walk out in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.

    Who are they? One is a cop and other criminal. They chase each other like a cat chases a rat. They both are committed to their work and they are best at what they do. They finish their conversation by reaffirming their commitment to their work and to using lethal force if necessary to stop the other.

    Heat opens with a robbery, lead by Neil and his crew existing Chris, Michael, Trejo and a new guy Waingro. Everything goes right until it all turns into a homicide which makes LAPD Lieutenant Vincent Hanna to step in and work on the case.

    Neil is professional, he plans everything and goes step by step with a care. He outsmarts the cops at each turn, but he a man with means. As he falls for Eady , he gets a job where the risk is worth the stretch.

    Vincent Hanna is someone who don't want on your back as he will not stop until he captures you. He is what you call a workaholic man, dedicated every part of his to job.

    Written and Directed by Michael Mann, he sets up a game between the oldest rivals in this world. A Cop and The Thief. He plays each characters to its means. I love the scene where Neil and his gang are out having dinner and everyone except him has a girl of their own with family as he looks around his empty seat feeling lonely for the first time as he exits to call Eady.

    Heat consists not only the chase between these two professions but the lives they lead personally. Chris personal life is not going well as he looses his money to gambling as his wife detests him for it. But his love for her and finally looking for that big score and ending it makes his character more real.

    Heat consists of a tense score breathing down by Elliot Goldenthal. You as a viewer are into every situation chasing these characters but at the same time you yourself are into a worry for everyone involved.

    The bank robbery scene is efficiently executed as the bullets starts to hover around from both sides, losing men while they are at it. Mann executes every conversation perfectly and every situation to its tests. He wants every character to feel real to its viewer, that there is meaning at what they do. For Vincent and Neil that is what they have been doing almost all their lives without breaking any sweat.

    The final act of this movie is set to perfection, finally the chase coming to an end.

    Al Pacino as Lt. Vincent Hanna is incredible in his role. He gets into the skin of his character to perfection. His dynamic with De Niro is just electric and generates the heat necessary. But the scene I love the most is when Hanna takes his stepdaughter to the hospital as you can see his other side.

    Robert De Niro as Neil McCauley gives one great and stylish performance. He is smart, he is cool, he is dangerous and can kill without any flinch. His character is something that drifts through places after places and loves to be alone.

    In Supporting Val Kilmer as Chris gives reality check to his character who is broken and in love. Jon Voight as Nate and Tom Sizemore as Michael are good in their roles living an impact through the end.

    When it comes to Crime thrillers, Michael Mann is one the best filmmakers around. He creates scenes with such simplicity. The famous coffee shop scene is shot so simple but creates an big impact on the viewers. Yes, it is great because of DeNiro and Pacino facing each other but it also has to be executed perfectly with meaning for their characters. Mann mainly uses shoulder shots and close ups in the scene.

    Heat is one of the best movies ever made. It has two giants in a frame together. It sets in the blur light of the city that dispersers in the morning as the crime levels up. It has its beauty not only with the cat and mouse game it plays but how it tackles the personal lives of the characters. It is a thumping ride that lives you breathless as you reach the end.

    Neil McCauley: Told you I'm never going back...

    Vincent Hanna: Yeah.

  • ★★★★★ review by MasterLundegaard on Letterboxd

    Review

    Despite the first five minutes feeling as if the film would only grow to be a by-the-books crime thriller with no real grit, Heat almost instantly began to evolve into a character-study/crime caper of massive scale. Via the intense shoot-outs, the gripping conversations, and the criminal schemes that are so complex and so wide-reaching that they practically hang over the film's entirety like a cloud of deadly gas fumes, this film steps above its genre conventions and shows itself as a powerful musing-piece on ambition, competition, personal gratification, and consequence. Yet beyond the technical and narrative prowess, there is a deep face-off within the center of everything that Heat strives for and perfects: a combat between two men, both in an inner battle with themselves over trying to remain important in a time in their lives where their importance is slowly, ever-so-slowly, fading. A+

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