Heat (1995) 4.71/5 (5)


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Rating: The Good – 90.4
Genre: Crime
Duration: 170 mins
Director: Michael Mann
Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer

Heat is Michael Mann’s epic tale of obsession and discipline that focuses on the adversarial relationship between a perfectionist cop (Al Pacino) and a master thief (Robert De Niro). This was the first film to bring the two greatest actors of their generation together on screen and it’s to Mann’s credit that he keeps their meetings brief and few, choosing instead to use the charisma of the two leads to drive their own sides to the story until the inevitable showdown. Heat is an expansive film involving a number of dramatic subplots that are skillfully interwoven into the wider story. It is also Mann’s most stylistic film. His trademark grading and wide-sweeping night-time cityscape shots provide the perfect backdrop to the methodical and exacting behaviour of the police and criminals alike. The immaculate editing and that quietly brilliant Elliot Goldenthal score are as good as you’ll get in any film. The action has rarely been equalled let alone bettered and the now famous street battle remains the most powerfully realistic yet elegantly co-ordinated action sequence ever committed to celluloid (rumour has it that it’s shown in military academies as a text-book example of how to execute an ordered retreat while taking fire).

And then, of course, there’s the cast. Replete with most of Mann’s regulars and led by two of cinema’s icons, they are invariably excellent ensuring that this compelling tale is populated with the most fascinating yet believable of characters. It has become increasingly popular in recent times to criticise Pacino’s highly charged turn as the obsessed cop but those critics would do well to spot the telltale signs of a cocaine addict in that role, a job admittedly made more difficult by the fact that Mann elected to remove any explicit reference to that fact in post production. When taken into consideration, it becomes a performance of serious consequence and alongside De Niro’s equally impressive turn in the more low-key role and under the direction of the great Mann, it helps Heat become the slickest and coolest crime thriller ever made and one that you’ll never get tired of watching.

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