← Back to Reviews
"Told I ain't going back"


7. Heat (Michael Mann, 1995)

Michael Mann's influential crime thriller is merely a tale of cop's 'n' robbers, but also a study of that ol' ying yang scenario that's been imitated before but a substantial amount of times after the release of this 90's diamond.

Bob DeNiro co leads as the lonely, soft spoken Neil MaCauley, who also just happens to lead a talented and brutal team of professional theives.. His flip side is Pacino's tempestuous and boisterous Vincent Hanna, who's aggressive sarcastic demeanor initially belies what David Simon and co would call 'good PO-lease'. Watch the scene where he figures out that MaCauley is studying him and his comrades during the empty warehouse space.

Heat is, as epic a film I have ever scene if I had to answer 'what's the most epic film i've ever seen'. It's epic in scale, running time and, of course, cast wise. There is just a great sense of power and importance to it that I hadn't really felt before prior to watching it.

The film is noted for being the first to feature American film giants DeNiro and Pacino in the same scene. It's not too difficult to appreciate this bit of casting when all you have to do is reflect on both Pacino and DeNiro's careers. Both have spent most of the very commercial part of their careers playing either a copper or crook. Both have similar fan bases, are of the same age and have Italian sounding names.

Essentially, these two iconic figures parallel each other similary to how Hanna and MaCauley parallel each other. obvious observation, i'm aware, but I cannot recfall a time where two characters from opposite sides of the law felt so convincingly alike.

I first watched Heat when I was about 13 or 14 years old, and even though I never fully understood the complexities of everybody's relationship, I remember being very impressed with how immersive Mann's vision was. And this may sound odd seeing as i've never been, but I felt he captured what seemed like to be the naturalism of Los Angeles. Like a place that I could imagine living in, not just some glossed up Hollywood walkzone.

The city feels alive and you kind of get to know it a lil bit. Those lovely blue skies (my favourite colour) and cold, grayish/blue tint haunts the photography. It's an astonishing style that really caputres the internal torment of the protagonists and their lonely nature - Neil's infamous "30 secs to go speech" and Hanna's refuslal to put his family before the job.

Another thing that amazed me was Mann's complex writing of the lesser but key characters and the situations that they find themselves in. For example, Mann throughout most of the film seems to suggest that it's our choices in life that make us deserve whatever consequences comes our way, and that you make everything your own but it's ultimately those who make the wrong choices who are the people who get what they deserve.

But then he comes out with a sociological argument that's explained through those brief yet sorry Brendan scenes that suggests that Mann really believes that people are often forced into positions in society that they are believed to be the most effective in and benefit greater from doing such things than doing it the hard way. It's Mann's desire to not baby the characters or paint them as 11 dimensional by putting us into the lives of both villains and 'heroes' that makes this film so special. It's ultimately his film and he has yet to better it.