Heat - A Crime Saga of Epic Proportions

                                  Epic film-making is generally considered the province of pictures with panoramic views and historical story lines. But a picture like Michael Mann's Heat is a fast-moving epic, framing an urban jungle, about lives of two similar men on opposite sides of the law who are on a collision course.

                                  A gang of thieves, and a group of lawmen plotting against each other. This is a kind of format, which many thought has reached its death. But Mann has jolted it back to life with massive doses of dazzling style and unexpected humanity. What do you get when you take America's two great actors, who specializes in scene stealing, both of them equally volatile, both of them experts in playing emotionally intense characters, and ask them to face-off on screen? 

   Los Angeles police detective Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), is on his third marriage, with a marijuana-smoking wife (Diane Venora) who is tired of his work obsessions and a stepdaughter who is seriously troubled because her real father neglects her. Criminal mastermind Neil McCauley(Robert De Niro), an ex-con who swears he'll never return to prison and who has organized his "crew" (Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore and Jon Voight) to plot and execute a series of high-revenue robberies. 

                 When one of the robberies goes wrong, thanks to an unreliable gang-member recruited at the last minute, Hanna scrapes up a few clues to help him track down some of McCauley's gang. In order to put them away permanently, however, Hanna needs to catch them in the act. So, he starts tracking their activities, with the assistance of his fellow police officers. From here, it's the small betrayals and Hanna's sure understanding of his adversary that allow the net to tighten around McCauley and his men. The final face-off between the two equally matched opposite numbers is delivered fairly in a staggering night time climax.

          There are two other reasons for watching the movie: Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. They stoke up this simple cop-thief drama until sparks fly overhead. At precisely the halfway point of Heat cop Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) tucks in behind criminal mastermind Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) on the highway, pulls him over with flashing lights, and asks him if he wants to go get a cup of coffee. The meeting of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in "Heat" is being touted as a great event, since the only other pairing of the two dynamic Oscar-winners was in "The Godfather, Part II" — and, of course, because De Niro played Pacino's father in flashbacks, they never shared the screen. Heat is worth a watch just for this scene alone. 

                               Later in 2008, De Niro and Pacino, did a forgettable, average movie "Righteous Kill." Writer-director Michael Mann ("Last of the Mohicans," "Man-hunter", "Collateral") means to do more here than simply offer a typical cops-'n'-robbers thriller. But why is this film 3 hours long, you ask? The answer lies in Mann's multidimensional examinations of all the major characters. He wants to celebrate police procedure in realistic detail, show how difficult it is to be a cop and maintain a family, and he also wants to put on display the criminal's point of view. 

                              Aside from Pacino and De Niro , strong performances by the principals and some excellent bit parts by players like Hank Azaria, Val Kilmer, Natalie Portman, and Jon Voight  make Heat a truly memorable film. If the average viewer can't relate to the sky-high life and death stakes or the risks, they could seek solace in the well executed action sequences. 

                           Our loyalties with the characters are challenged often. We find ourselves looking for ways the bad guy can get out of Los Angeles alive. Director Mann wonderfully exploits the American cinema's longstanding preference to glamorize the criminal in order to feed the emotional needs of the audience. 

                       The movie gives a reflection on the urban tragedies that unfold around us every day. McCauley's mantra—"Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in thirty seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner"—echoes a modern discontent and paranoia in the city life. And the scariest thing about the film is that there are so many soulless men like these two out there in the streets pursuing their obsessions without regard for anyone but themselves.

                   Watch 'Heat' for its excellent cast , and if you don’t have any particular aversion for crime-thriller movies.


  Heat - Imdb                                                  


Vetirmagal said...

Arun, I need to see lots of good movies, after their mention in your reviews. Thanks. :-)

Priya Balan said...

Cinema is great entertainment now in the world. Its easily reached people I searched Trade Wholesale Printing Related keyword. Thanks Overnight Prints

Unknown said...

Good review! I keep coming to read you for recommendations.

Bikram said...

ONe of my favourite movies and as you say Two of the best actors of todays age, together...


Arun Kumar said...

@Vetrimagal, Thanks for your comment, and do watch these movies.

@Aline, Thank you, glad to recommend fine movies.

@Bikramjit, Thanks for your comment.