Heat (1995) Dir, Michael Mann

so i did it,
i finally watched Heat.
I'm a man now?
Heat was one of those movies that was always around the house when i was growing up.
But to me, even though it had guns on the cover, it looked like a long boring waste of my time. My dad really liked it and told me that I was too young to watch it and if i was just a little patient i would be able to watch it when i was older.
Even then, looking at the cover i thought it a silly notion.
"why the hell is the movie two vhs tapes long?" i thought in my star wars pjs.
who would sit through two vhs tapes worth of a movie?
Instead i just popped in another Indy Jones adventure and jumped on beds acting out the action scenes.

Now that I actually am older, although i didn't get here patiently, i thought maybe it was time to finally sit down to Michael Mann's crime thriller Heat.

I know i'm the last person i know to have seen this and still, i feel my reaction to the film should be known.
well, i loved it. I thought it really was something great. The dialogue is tough and to the point while the characters are real and most of them pretty much completely insane... like real people.
Its running time was barely a bother to this older, somewhat slightly less A.D.D., Dropkick. In fact i think the film would have benefited if it ran some 10 or 20 minutes longer.
What makes the picture is the story arcs of not the two leads, one being Al Pacino (the law or in this case the "heat") and the other Robert De Niro (the crook), but of every secondary character in the picture.
It's played as such an ensemble that Rob and Al seem to fade into the collage and become part of a whole instead of being headliners of the show which makes the film that much better. It's unlike Righteous Kill which is just a film with Rob and Al for the sake of having a film with Rob and Al together.
The central conflict of the film becomes quite clear early on: This film is going to come down between the "heat" and the "crooks", it's going to speed up fiercely into a head on collision that no one will be able to stop.
That is the blue print for almost every run of the mill crime thriller but this one shows the casualties of that clash.
Heat shows us marriages torn apart, the loneliness of a life made up of crime, the balance between duty and morality, suicides, unjustified murder, gambling addictions, etc.
We're shown at least a little bit of every character that opens their mouth. This broadens the scope to give the viewer a landscape that is barely recognizable as action thriller. This is high paced drama.
When "The Dark Knight" was released director Christopher Nolan stated "Heat" as one of his main influences. And it really shows upon viewing "Heat" now after seeing Dark Knight.

The colours chosen here, mostly a myriad of pastel greys showcasing a L.A. that is mostly overcast, is almost identical to the colour scheme of the Dark Knight.
The first heist in "Heat" plays eerily similar to the Jokers' bank break at the opening of DK.
Which is funny because in "Heat" they're stealing from a rich business man played by William Fichtner who in retaliation creates a lot of problems for the group of thieves later on. And in "Dark Knight" the bank manager is played also by William Fichtner who manages to kill one of the Joker's henchmen. Coincidence or obvious reference?

Both films have two huge stars that should be taking the lime light. In "Heat" we as viewers want to see Pacino and De Niro, and in "The Dark Knight" we want to see Batman and the Joker. Yet both films force our time with other minor characters instead of the action we want to see. This fleshes out both of the films and gives them depth and merit.
I still think it's strange that a Batman film has depth. whoa.

anyways, "Heat" reveals that line that is drawn through every human beings heart that divides good and evil; and that both of these ideals can be reversed depending on the positioning of oneself which will undoubtedly always be the "good" side from wherever you're standing. Oh, and the guns sounded cool.
Pick this one up as part of Film Buff West's ongoing Heist Film Fest series.
Terrific, 5 out of 5, 7 carrots, 50 gold stars, 9 songs, 13 dead end lane



the coelacanth said...

heat's one i always forget about, but yeah, it's awesome (from what i remember - the last time i watched it was on that two-taper). i like how you called them rob and al, sounds so...casual. bert and ernie. that pic at the end of the post of al terrified me. cool comparisons to the dark knight - didn't know nolan drew so much inspiration from this film, and hadn't even picked up on the opening heist similarities. anyway, boosh.

La Sporgenza said...

I have a funny insider story about Heat. After it was released a friend of mine was in Santa Fe for the winter and ended up drinking at a bar where one of Heat's character actor's was a regular. They struck up several conversations and on one particularly drunken night this guy spilled about the experience of doing the movie with these giants (Pacino, DeNiro specifically but Voight, Kilmer and Mann too) He indicated that DeNiro was very quiet but friendly and professional and that Pacino was a complete dick given to endless overacting and mugging. Apparently there were many scenes of the detectives working together on the case that ended up on the cutting room floor and the film turned into the Lone Ranger starring Pacino. The actor said that someone kept adding another “L” after Pacino's first name on his trailer and he got really pissed about it (it became “All Pacino”). Word has it that the entire cast had a go at adding an “L” over the course of the shoot. Don't know if it's true but funny if it is.

the coelacanth said...

i've always felt secretly that deniro and pacino would be like you describe in real life.