film reel image

film reel image

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Heat 1995 * * * * Stars

The above picture is an image of the movie title HeatDirector: Michael Mann
Year: 1995
Rated: R
Rating: * * * * Stars
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer

Michael Mann had only made 4 films in eleven years prior to shooting this epic 1995 crime saga about cops and robbers duking it out in modern day L.A.  Heat was famous for bringing together two of the greatest actors who ever walked the face of the earth in Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.  They only share the screen together for about two and half scenes.  But it's priceless stuff.  One is the hero and one is the villain.  Can you guess which one?  If you've never seen the film before it could be a tough answer. Oh heck, I'll tell you anyway.

Robert De Niro plays Neil McCauley, a man who's main lot in life is to take down scores or heists anywhere from an armored car to a bank.  His crew consists of other hardened criminals played by well known actors such as Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, and Danny Trejo.  Al Pacino's character is Vincent Hanna. He is the lieutenant of the L.A.P.D. and a non-family type with 3 divorces under his belt. Within the first half hour of the flick, he has been tapped to stop Neil and catch him in the act of whatever robbery he and his crew attempt next.

With a few other pertinent subplots and some of Mann's numbing cinematic trademarks (primarily using composer Elliot Goldenthal's haunting musical score), Heat is a long yet engrossing film (almost 3 hours).  It takes its time developing the characters so we see them as real people and not cardboard cutouts servicing the plot.  When the film comes to its final climax, we as the audience know what it took to get there and appreciate the journey.  Heat will leave you exhausted and elated, but in a good way.  There are three great scenes that qualify it as master film making  One is the gunfight in the middle of downtown Los Angeles with gunfire so visceral and loud you can smell the bullets.  Then there's the coffee shop scene with De Niro and Pacino basically admitting their secretly best friends who are pretty much the same person (I would give up my left arm to be an extra in that scene when it was going down).  And finally there is the ending, possibly the greatest film ending of all time.  Echoing the Steve McQueen classic Bullitt (1967), it's a standoff between good and evil for the ages at where else, the airport.  I don't care if you are a grown man or not, you'll probably shed a tear or two.  Heat is a movie for people who love movies. I consider it one of my all time faves.  In the middle of the proceedings, desperate criminal Val Kilmer utters the line, "the bank is worth the risk, I need it brother."  You'll need it too, the film that is.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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