Heat (movie)

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Template:Infobox Movie

Heat is a crime thriller/action film released on December 15, 1995. It is written and directed by Michael Mann, and its ensemble cast includes Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Ashley Judd, and Natalie Portman.


Plot summary

Neil McCauley (De Niro) is an expert thief who has centered his life around one creed: Do not allow anything into your life that you cannot walk out on in thirty seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner. He and his crew, including compulsive gambler Chris Shiherlis (Kilmer) and family man Michael Cheritto (Sizemore), take part in an elaborate highjacking of an armored car. They make away with 1.5 million dollars in bearer bonds, but not without accidental bloodshed.

Enter Vincent Hanna (Pacino), one of the top detectives in the Robbery Homicide Division of the LAPD. Vincent and his crew immediately go to work, utilizing a number of leads and snitches to bring the perpetrators to justice. Meanwhile, McCauley is busy planning another major score -- a bank heist with a twelve-million dollar paycheck. In one of the more thrilling action set-pieces in recent film history, the cops meet the robbers in the middle of their daylight bounty, leading to a massive shootout on a busy Los Angeles boulevard.

Missing image
Thief Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) firing an M4 carbine

One area that separates this film from more routine action pictures is Mann's penetrating insight into the personal lives of both sides of characters, and in particular, the relationships they form with the opposite sex. McCauley is forced to break his credo when he receives the affections of Eady (Amy Brenneman), a librarian and graphic artist who shares his loneliness. Shiherlis' destructive behavior takes a toll on his marriage to Charlene (Judd), ex-Vegas showgirl and mother to his son. Her one penetrating fear is her husband's capture and her getting sent to prison as an accessory to his crimes. As the film reaches its climax, she is forced to confront these fears head-on. Hanna, a manic workaholic, has neglected with his third wife Justine (Venora) and her troubled daughter Lauren (Portman). As Justine puts it, he doesn't live with her anymore, he lives among the remains of the victims he comes across daily. Their tenuous relationship also reaches a critical crossroads, and the final decision made is as much of a downer as it is a relief.

Michael Mann and his accompanying artistans' technical proficiency is in full-force here. The film resonates with an overwhelming sense of authenticity: the afforementioned shootout was supervised by SAS legend Andy McNabb, and the details of the heists (rigging junction boxes, cutting into telco lines and alarm circuitry) leave the viewer with the impression that yes, this is how that job gets done. Cinematographer Dante Spinotti's uses of angles and filters add the neo-noir flair to the proceedings. Composer Elliot Goldenthal, aided here by the Kronos Quartet, adds the requisite amount of ambience that has been made a Mann trademark. Music Supervisor/KCRW personality Chris Douridas leaves his stamp on the soundtrack; the use of Moby's God Moving Over the Face of the Waters at the film's ending is a masterstroke.

The main selling point is the onscreen confrontation between Pacino and De Niro. Their coffeehouse conversation, lasting several minutes and occurring at the film's halfway point, marks the first time the two have appeared together in the same scene.

Of note: the film is a remake of L.A. Takedown, a 1989 made-for-television film also directed by Mann.

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