‘Heat’ tells the epic crime story of Neil McCauley and Vincent Hanna, two men on the “other side” of a coin, on both sides of the law.
Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) is a career master thief who leads a small “team” of armed professional thieves who “get” big money and back jobs. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) is the equally skilled Los Angeles detective who scores these ‘scores’.
Neil and Vincent become the ultimate adversaries whose commitment to their work has consumed them and made them comparable and contradictory to each other. They both need each other equally, both in isolation and in no need of a material outer world, operating outside of normal society, more involved and fixed with each other than anything else in their lives. Both men are so obsessed and dedicated to their craft that they are both eaten up by it, leaving a trail of devastation and dysfunction amid the ruins of their almost lonely existence. They are both surrounded by their respective ‘teams’ but are completely alone as their compulsions have created a complete disconnect from the world outside of the pitfalls of a career that requires extreme obsession and no little paranoia.
Neil has a specific reason for this separation; “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything that you’re not willing to get out of in 30 seconds if you feel the heat just around the corner.” The “Heat” he refers to is the pursuit of his soon-to-be nemesis; Vincent, and to stay free and ahead, he must abide by his own rules.
Vincent has failed to try to live an existence within the accessories of a normal family life, a deteriorating marriage in addition to previous failed marriages, and a stepdaughter (Natalie Portman) on the periphery who is already having pre-adolescent problems and feelings of rejection. of his own absent father. Vincent is more committed to his work than anything else in his life and everything else suffers the consequences of the obligation he must give to go after high-level urban criminals like Neil. Vincent illustrates that to be fully dedicated to an all-consuming cause, all else must suffer.
Neil has no connection to anything else in his life, so he operates with a clarity that has kept him at the top of the game for so long, and when Vincent briefly catches up with Neil, he asks his crew why they haven’t met. refugee. I hadn’t seen him before, probably because Neil was always ahead of the curve, as he hasn’t indulged in lifestyle and relationship indulgences.
It’s when Neil meets Eady (Amy Brenneman), and when Vincent’s relationship with his wife Justine (Diane Venora) worsens, a reversal occurs, clearly demonstrating once again how the pitfalls of everyday life and the desire to build relationships and desire for something. normal, it is incompatible with the total devotion that your chosen careers need. This is where the women of ‘Heat’ are central; strong in their obligation to their men, but equally damaging to both in what are reasonable day-to-day requirements of their men; Neil and Vincent simply cannot provide, because whatever commitment they have is to their job and any attempt they have, or will make, to strike a balance is futile. Neil finds it increasingly difficult to “feel the heat” around the corner as Vincent slowly approaches him, while Neil begins to break his own rule when he falls in love with Eady; Will you defend your point of view of leaving in thirty seconds and sacrificing the love you have found?
‘Heat’ tells a tragic story better than any other film of its kind and nothing comes close to the scale of ‘Heat’ in telling such a rich and character-deep story, with Neil and Vincent at the center of everything and everyone. the others fall – in and out of them.
Neil leads a group of thieves who also carry chaotic existences; Chris (Val Kilmer) is also a master thief, but also a gambling addict, once again showing the incompatibility of trying to lead a normal life while his marriage falls apart. Tom Sizemore is Michael, who somehow, of the entire crew, has managed to record some kind of normal family life. Danny Trejo is Trejo who also, as a less seen character, has managed to exist in relative normality.
It is here that ‘Heat’ rises to the epic in terms of character study, as each player is given an extensive story and their stories are as relevant as Neil and Vincent’s to highlight the damage of being dedicated to their dangerous careers, how your choice to commit to this or normalcy, has consistent consequences for everyone in the consequences of the final act. This central theme of what all the protagonists of ‘Heat’ choose to commit more; It is what will determine your destiny.
When Heat premiered in 1995, there was a lot of talk about DeNiro and Pacino’s first on-screen pairing, ever since they paired up again on the forgettable ‘Righteous Kill’. ‘Heat’ is hands down the greater pairing of the two and provided us with the long-time confrontation between the leading luminaries of modern American cinema in the iconic showdown – to end all confrontations, the coffee shop scene. , which is one of the many, many fiery reflections of ‘Heat’. Here, two acting generals combine and complement each other perfectly in one of the most memorable and long-awaited scenes ever.
However, one of the biggest testimonies to the brilliance of ‘Heat’ is not just bringing together two of the best, but the success of letting us somehow forget that we are seeing DeNiro and Pacino, but “normal guys”, both. at each end. of the law, both completely relentless in their aim to outperform and present to each other in layman’s terms what they are willing to do, with no time to misinterpret guesswork. They both know about each other that neither of them will stop at nothing if they “box in” each other. The airport’s glittering and tense finale, another iconic ‘Heat’ moment, will provide the battlefield to see who has the sharpest instincts, honored for decades to be the hunter and the hunted.
Director Michael Mann has never surpassed “Heat,” and it is his pinnacle in a high-quality career, a masterclass in directing and storytelling; how to create something epic with a scale of characterization that is rarely seen; never better than demonstrating your signature style of sharp reflective facades, a focus on character, relationships, and a deft touch to handle big-stage action with total immersion and reality; No longer emphasized by the shocking bank robbery, live rifle fire crackles and ricochets from building to building fully charging the air around, adding a level and depth of sound that nothing in modern cinema has matched. Many have tried to replicate the ‘Heat’ heist, including Mann himself in shootouts on ‘Public Enemies’ and ‘Collateral’, but they have never matched the high level of ‘Heat’.
This iconic piece is not the only highlight of this modern epic tale, the initial hijacking of a safe deposit van sets the tone for a huge and booming action that shows just how ruthless McCauley’s crew is prepared to be.
The climactic piece is a perfectly paced foot chase through the catwalks of LAX that leads to a nervous showdown, masterfully intensified by director Mann; utilizing the fluctuating light from runway and aircraft spotlights, and the ebb and flow of sounds from incoming jets, intelligently providing DeNiro and Pacino’s “boxed in” opponents with moments of tense concealment.
However, the highlight is the epic character study scale and series of interactions between all the movie players, each exchange is captivating and compelling, superbly written and believable. No character is insignificant, no irrelevant events to string together an interlocking tapestry set on the glittering great Los Angeles stage, masterfully assembled by Mann in his greatest work.
Heat is undoubtedly a formidable film and is one of the best films in modern cinema. The reunion of two of America’s biggest players is just the tip of a glass iceberg. It is the crime saga that nothing has improved yet and it is the most tragic of stories that many comparable films have failed to match in scale and depth, script and atmosphere.
‘Heat’ is excellent and represents the pinnacle of filmmaking; a director, a cast, all at its best, and a brilliantly told story.
‘Heat’ is firmly in my top ten personal movies of all time, and it’s probably on the list of many others.
Unquestionably; one of the best movies ever made.