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Robert De Niro and Al Pacino are two of my all time favourite actors, so getting the chance too see them act alongside each other was an opportunity I was not going to miss out on.
Al Pacino plays Vincent Hanna, a top L.A detective. Robert De Niro plays Neil McCauley, a cunning, professional thief.
McCauley has pulled off many high-tech robberies with amazing success which has now grabbed the attention of top detective Vincent Hanna, whose obsession with his work is driven by no expense to his own private life.
McCauley lives by one motto, which inevitably is the key to his success thus far, that being 'become attached to nothing in life that you can't walk away from if the "Heat" is on'.
Now McCauley wants too pull off one more big high-tech robbery, and move on with his life with the first women he has met in years that he can actually connect with.
His professional crew are more then equipped to help him, but detective Hanna is no cop to be fooled, and does not give up easy in his quest to bring him to justice.
No one, not even Hanna has been able to get near McCauley and his crew, but when one of their robberies goes wrong detective Hanna is hot on their trail.
Sensing that they may be in hot water, they regroup for one final job, big enough for them to all go their own separate ways. No expense is spared for the job, guns, high explosives, armed cars, are all thrown in to the frame work.
However, Neil McCauley is tempted to ignore his life long motto that has been the belief of his success for decades when his love for his new flame burns brighter, which in turn lets detective Hanna get closer to him than he ever has before.
Both are challenged by incredible minded men on both sides of the law, which are pitted against each other with explosive outcomes.
My Thoughts on the Movie
We are no stranger to the plot, we have seen it hundreds of times before. What made this movie work was the fact that director Michael Mann brought these two cinematic icons, De Niro and Pacino, together for the first time, alongside a hot supporting cast of big names.
In this movie, I thought the 'good guy, bad guy' cliché was completely thrown out the window which was great and welcoming to the plot itself. However the plot could have been much better, for reasons of the way it was shot. The movie itself to me was shot in a sequence of what seemed to be many brief moments, which although there were good moments I couldn't help thinking there were a lot of unnecessary scenes. I would have liked to have seen Michael Mann focus more on the main characters than that of all the less supporting characters over this almost three hour long film, never the less, Manns approach to this movie using the quick scene method doesn't manage too get you confused or loose you which is something not too snarl at. It being three hours long was not a disadvantage to the movie whatsoever as the character build up was what the film was all about.
The stronger parts of the film follow the main characters personal lives, and the effects all of their chosen professions have on their partners which in turn gives the movie more depth and realism than most cops and robbers action thrill movies. There is plenty of drama which compliments the action played out outstandingly well by both De Niro and Pacino.
This movie all boils down to not so much having a tremendous plot, but just having brilliant characters that drew me in hook line and sinker. Having a movie with such a big cast of top names normally put me off as it never lives up to my expectations which for once weren't the case with this movie.
With all this in mind I do think Heat is one of the best action crime dramas I have ever scene. I am never bored watching it, and have completely lost count how many times I have indeed watched it. I may have wanted more focus on the main characters, but Michael Mann's directing never the less was superb in this, making an audience glued for three hours is not an easy task, which in my views Mann successfully did with this film. Although Braveheart was the movie we all heard about in 1995, sweeping many awards of the shelf, I think Heat was the best movie of that year.
My Thoughts on the Characters
The roles of the characters were picked perfectly. I could never pick a favourite out of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, they both bring so many talents to any part they pick to play, but undoubtedly in this movie you could not imagine the characters the other way round. De Niro was the best choice for the thief, he suited the role so well, and Al Pacino was the perfect cop, if roles were reversed I don't think it would have complimented the film as much as it did.
They explored both Pacino's character and De Niro's character so well, by showing both their emotional boundaries that drives them to do what they do, and what morals they choose to go by. Both characters are very much the same in many different ways, as they can both loose sight with their work, and not focus on the things that actually do or can make them happy.
The film also had a great supporting cast, Tom Seizemore played De Niro's right Hand man, and I have always been a fan of his acting, he is naturally calm and 'the cool guy', which really shows in this movie.
Also we have Val Kilmer, who is another part of De Niro's crew. Vals character is 100% committed to the job, and even with his marriage falling apart around him he will not let De Niro down. Ashley Judd plays his partner but unfortunately her talents are wasted in this movie as we see very little of her and what we do see is not her best work.
Then there are the love interests between the main characters. Amy Brenneman plays De Niros love interest. Her character is De Niros first women in decades to whom he has ever connected with and his one chance of living a normal happy life. She is unaware of what he does, but falls deeply for him and wants to be let in.
Pacinos marriage is also breaking down with his work driven obsession in catching De Niro. Diane Venora plays Pacino's wife and plays a good emotional part at feeling rejected due to a life style she can't understand.
My Favourite Scene
The movie was always going to be about Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Getting these two to play alongside each other is eye candy for many movie goers.
Although they have appeared together in Godfarther part 2, they never actually shared the same scene due to the timeline in that story. So director Michael Mann would have been thrilled to be the first to grab this opportunity before anyone else did. However they only shared one major scene in this movie together, which of course being my favourite scene of all.
It was done very simply with over the shoulder shots, with both cop and thief sitting down over coffee matching wits by saying very little at all, showing off their cool calm collectiveness, with stern faces and simple eye contact with low tones in their voices which really makes the scene work and draws you in.
The scene not only shows both characters at their most vulnerable however strong they look, but also shows off their massive respect for each other as actors. It was a scene I know that will go down in cinematic history no matter if the plot went down as being somewhat unmemorable. I completely loved it, and made the film a true blessing to me.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURE
The Movie itself.
Audio commentary from writer/director Michael Mann
11 additional scenes
'Return To The Scene Of The Crime': Location Manager Janice Polley and Associate Producer Gusmano Cesaretti visit the real life L.A. locations used in the film
'The Making Of Heat - True Crime': Michael Mann and Chuck Adamson, Technical Advisor and real life inspiration for the Lt. Vincent Hanna character, discuss the Chicago crime scene and the events surrounding the real Neil McCauley (who Adamson took down in the late 60s) that inspired the film
'The Making Of Heat - Crime Stories': Mann, cast and crew discuss the twenty year origin of the script, the film's genesis and the complexity of the characters portrayed on screen
'The Making Of Heat - Into The Fire': Mann, cast and crew discuss training for their roles, filming in LA, shooting the climatic downtown heist and post production
'Pacino and De Niro': The Conversation - Mann, cast and crew explore this historic on-screen showdown in the pivotal confrontation at Kate Mantellini's
My comments on the DVD features:
I am not always bothered about the DVD features as I believe a good film should speak for itself, however, this was a very worthwhile attribute to the movie and purchase. Michael Mann's views and commentary on the movie is very interesting, especially why he chose to shoot the movie in the way he did. And also the section on the 'Al Pacino and Robert De Niro Scene' was of much interest to me, as I really wanted to know why is was just the one scene, and from this I could see why and agreed completely with the director.
Overall it's a worthwhile addition to the movie and worth paying that couple of extra pounds than that of the normal DVD version.
DVD AND CAST DETAILS
Cast: Al Pacino ; Robert De Niro ; Val Kilmer ; Ashley Judd ; Tom Sizemore ; Jon Voight ; Danny Trejo ; Tom Noonan ; Henry Rollins ; Hank Azaria ; Diane Venora ; Natalie Portman ; Amy Brenneman ; Wes Studi ; Dennis Haysbert ; Jeremy Piven ; Tone Loc
Directed by Michael Mann
Running time 2hrs 56 mins approx Cert: 15
Genre: Action, crime, drama suspense
I brought the DVD from Amazon for £9.97
No one will be a stranger to the storyline, its been done, tried and tested many a time, some work, some don't, this one worked simply due to the performances of the cast. If your either a De Niro fan or that of a Pacino fan (although if you like one you are bound to admire the other anyway) this movie is a must for you. The supporting cast are good, and the story is more than acceptable. I feel it is a worthwhile viewing, and I would rate it 7 out of 10.
I enjoyed it very much and would say it was one of the best movies of 1995.
Thanks for reading, Dempsey
We all swooned at Collaterals twinkling skyscrapers and fluorescent freeways, but Heat is Michael Manns most gushing LA love letter a grimy genre flick glossed up to the status of grand urban opera.
The director is often accused of trowelling on style-slap at the expense of soul and substance but that grump doesnt apply here. Heat isnt only his peerless lesson in how to make clusters of concrete and glass look beautiful, its also an eloquent study of loyalty, commitment and good guy/bad guy duality.
Based on real-life characters relayed to Mann by Chicago cop buddies, Nail McCauley (Robert De Niro) is the fastidious chief of an armed robbery crew being stalked by Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), an off-the-peg Brilliant Cop On The Edge (chronic cynicism, crumbling marriage, self-destructive teenage daughter). When a surgically planned strike on an armoured car turns messy, a member of McCauleys crew breaks rank, his indiscretion opening up enough chink in their armour to be exploited.
Mann pitches McCauley and Hanna into a fairly standard high stakes cat-and-mouse thriller a big budget rework of his late 80s TV movie, LA Takedown. But its the focus on the two mens ever-converging relationship that supplies a sheen of class. Mann is fascinated by the similarities between the two, almost to the point of playing them as a queasy kind of partnership: both are killers, fiercely devoted to their cause, middle-aged, feeling the first flickers of burnout
Crucially, the extremity of their work also gives them an ideal excuse for emotional reserve. Hannas home life suffers as he struggles to square the hyperreal terrors of his day-job with domestic drudgery, while McCauleys involvement with pretty librarian Eady (Amy Brenneman) is increasingly at odds with the mantra he lays on his crew (Never get involved in something you cant walk out on in 30 seconds when you feel the heat around the corner).
Having constructed such a solid, human story core, Mann lashes on the style, using daytime LA as a grand canvas for dizzying widescreen sweeps and deadeye shot symmetry. By contrast, nighttime LA is a shimmering wonderland: all iridescent copper-tone and flaring neon. But he also cranks the action when required, and the LOUD centrepiece firefight is more potent and muscular than anything seen in schlockier pics.
Heat is the undisputed leader of a sadly dwindling pack: A-list action films with balls AND brains.
Michael Manns intimate, articulate commentary would be plenty by itself, but, for once, heres a genuinely special Special Edition. Crammed with cast memories, design logic, location revisits, history, fresh interviews (apart from old footage of De Niro), all peppered with terrific anecdotes (Manns pathological attention to detail led to him hiring Brenneman as De Niros love-interest because she hated the script and he wanted someone with an air of innocent disinterest amid all the tough-guy poturing). Over the endlessly entertaining featurettes, we also learn what gives Heat that indefinable sheen of authenticity: its a film featuring two Method actors being guided by a Method director. As well as intensive, SAS-style weapons training, Mann steered the key players away from exaggerated, hammed-up bad guys by visiting convicted robbers in prison. I asked one guy why he did it, says Tom Sizemore. He just said, It was my JOB, man!
One of the extras
Michael Manns commentary on Heats hotspots
Armoured Car Heist: I had to show a crew of guys who are cold and skilled high-line pros. Theyve measured the police response, they dont waste time on loose cash
Diner Debrief: The coffee shop is Hohnnies Broiler in Downey, California. After I filmed there, it became one of the most shot locations in music videos. I couldnt turn on the TV without seeing it.
Pacino vs De Niro: I shot it with three cameras simultaneously. With the two most brilliant American screen actors alive, acting off each other, I wanted to capture every subtlety.
Shes got a great ass!: Al improvised it and we didnt tell Hank Azaria, the actor hes interrogating. So his amusement and astonishment is genuine.
Downtown Firefight: We had to shoot it on a Sunday morning. There was a Mothers Day party in a diner on the street corner. They got an unexpected sideshow.
Vincent Hanna: You know, we are sitting here, you and I, like a couple of regular fellas. You do what you do, and I do what I gotta do. And now that we've been face to face, if I'm there and I gotta put you away, I won't like it. But I tell you, if it's between you and some poor bastard whose wife you're gonna turn into a widow, brother, you are going down.
Neil McCauley: There is a flip side to that coin. What if you do got me boxed in and I gotta put you down? Cause no matter what, you will not get in my way. We've been face to face, yeah. But I will not hesitate. Not for a second.
When it comes to crime on the big screen there is no finer director than Michael Mann and there is no finer crime film in recent memory than Heat.
In 1989 Mann directed a TV-movie called LA Takedown. It was a decent little film and served as the blueprint for an LA crime drama named Heat.
Of course the big draw in the movie is that fact that it pairs screen legends Robert De Niro and Al Pacino against each other for the first time. The result is a sprawling engrossing battle of wits between a criminal mastermind and a man who tries to the mastermind.
Pacino plays Vincent Hanna, a livewire officer in Los Angeles robbery homicide division. As a cop he is cool and calculated but this means that everything else in his life is neglected including his down slope of a marriage. De Niro plays Neil McCauley, a professional criminal who lives for taking down big scores. Like Hanna, his choice of occupation has left the rest of his life cold with his only family being the crew he surrounds himself with.
The film starts with McCauley and crew taking down a security van with meticulous precision. However the new member of their crew invokes some unwanted bloodshed that leads Hanna to take up the case. Soon he is on the trail of McCauley and his crew. Through the film its a battle of wits and changes in character for both men, all of which culminates in a classic dialogue scene where both of them state their intentions.
As soon as I saw Heat, it became one of my favourite films. Obviously the draw of two top actors was the initial buzz. But Heat is much more than that. Its a fantastic character study of two men effectively just doing their jobs and sticking to a code. Manns script crackles with some pulsating dialogue of which the Coffee Shop scene is king. But aside from that Mann shows the smart side of crime. A large part of the film shows the planning of a bank score and its fascinating stuff. Aside from Pacino and De Niro, there is a strong supporting cast. From the smallest parts such as Jon Voights handler to Val Kilmers performance as McCauleys right hand man. Everyone of them is fascinating and beautifully played out.
Heat is one of those films that pushes close to three hours but all the time you never realize it. Thats because its incredibly engrossing and pushes all the right buttons. After ten years it still remains as fresh as ever. If you have never seen it then I implore you to track it down at the next available opportunity.
-WHO? WHO? WHAT ARE YOU, A F**KING OWL?-
Heat was originally released a few years back in a movie-only release. This new special edition retains the same audio and video specs. The 2.35:1 Anamorphic widescreen transfer is generally quite good. The movie is quite slick visually and the transfer represents that well. I have to say that in comparison to the original release it doesnt appear to be as good as I remember. The night scenes arent as striking as I remembered. But then I havent seen the original release in some time and maybe I was just overawed at the time when comparing to a previous VHS copy.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is very good and certainly earns it points when it comes to one scene in particular. One of the pivotal scenes in the movie is the bank hesit that leads to a shoot-out on the streets of LA. The sound in this instance is amazing.
-WELL YA KNOW, FOR ME, THE EXTRAS ARE THE JUICE.-
Ive been waiting for a special edition release of this movie for some time. Warner Brothers eventually came through and delivered a nice array of extras to placate any fan of the movie.
The main extra is a making of which runs for about an hour. This feature is split into three parts and covers most bases. A lot of is interview based but it asks questions to most of the major players in the movie. What you get is a good account of how the film came to be, how it was cast and what were the real life stories it gleaned its ideas from. Its great stuff.
Ten minutes is spent on that scene. There is some good stuff here from Mann on how the coffee ship scene was shot, played out and conceived. For me the scene is one of the most memorable in the last ten years and this brief featurette does it justice.
Finally there is a featurette that returns to some of the locations in the film. Its a decent little scout of Los Angeles, some people may not find it that interesting but I liked it.
11 Deleted Scenes complete the extras disc, theres nothing special on view but its nice to see what was trimmed.
Skip back to the first disc and aside from the trailers you also get an audio commentary with Michael Mann. The track is decent and covers a lot of production stories. Mann does struggle to fill the entire two hours and fourty-five minutes but thats understandable. Mann fans will still enjoy it.
Heat is one of those DVDs that is a must for any collection. This special edition is well worth the money just to see two great actors head to head. An online search at Kelkoo comes up with a bargain price of £7.99 and it would rude not to have it at that price.