Posted by: ckckred | April 11, 2013


A great example of contemporary cinema at its best

A great example of contemporary cinema at its best

There have been three times where two of cinema’s greatest legends, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, have been in the same film.  The first time gave audiences one of the greatest films in history (The Godfather Part II), but the third time around resulted in one of the most critically maligned pictures in recent years (Righteous Kill).  But the second time around, on the other hand, is closer to the first.  That movie would be Michael Mann’s Heat, a cop and robber film that breaks out of the genre and its clichés and is superb entertainment.

The movie revolves primarily around two characters, Neil McCauley (De Niro) and Vincent Hanna (Pacino).  McCauley is a professional thief who manages to pull of large heists effortlessly.  Vincent is a detective dedicated to his job.  But while both have their differences, they both share a multitude of similarities.  It’s this relationship that makes Heat a very special film.

In Heat, Vincent and McCauley’s worlds collide together after Vincent observes the aftermath of a large heist McCauley pulls off.  Soon, Heat transforms into a cat and mouse game, though it never shows who is at advantage: Vincent or McCauley.  Mann plays the two stars off of each other so well, balancing their screen time and shifting their stories perfectly.  Heat is by no means a quick watch, spanning to nearly three hours, but it’s a thrilling piece of work that never loses its intensity.

As I said before, Heat’s strength primarily rests on De Niro and Pacino.  The two only share one big scene together, a truce made by the two characters at a diner.  McCauley and Vincent discuss their lives, their loves, and their game.  Each rely on their instincts and will do anything to take each other down.  Mann manages to get the audience to pay their full attention to their dialogue.

Heat could rely on De Niro and Pacino alone, but it also boasts an excellent cast.  Val Kilmer deserves much praise as McCauley’s right hand man.  I’ve never been overly impressed with many of Kilmer’s performances but he’s as noteworthy here as the two main stars.

The main theme of Heat, I believe, relies on the women of the character’s lives.  Vincent is on his third marriage to a woman named Justice (Diane Venora), who dislikes how the cop spends most of his time at work.  Kilmer’s character has difficulty keeping his marriage together with his bickering wife.  And McCauley falls for a woman he meets at the diner, despite that it’s against his policy.

Heat is actually a ten year project by Mann and is a remake of the director’s TV movie L. A. Takedown.  It is undoubtedly a well-crafted movie.  Like many other 90s thrillers, Heat owes a great deal to Martin Scorsese and GoodFellas for its use of editing and action sequences.  Mann directs the film with rawness and intensity.  It’s hard not to admire the elaborate sets and camerawork.

A superb thriller, Heat is an essential piece of modern cinema not to be missed.



  1. Yes! I love this film. I agree that it hangs off De Niro and Pacino but it’s as much about the director, Michael Mann, too. He’s written and made a dense, absorbing but completely gripping story that has beautiful small moments and brilliant big set-pieces (without ever turning in to a traditional blockbuster type film). I agree that this is also one of Kilmer’s best roles – he manages not to be completely annoying! – but the depth of the film does also come from the depth of a lot of the secondary characters. Ha, ok, maybe I liked it a bit more than you – but great review of a great film.

    • Thanks! It is a great film. Kilmer is really good in his role and deserves much more credit. I love the way how Mann balances out the stories of the movie.

  2. Nice review of one of my absolute favorite films. The central heist set piece is a tour-de-force.

    • Thanks! The heist is amazing shot. That was my second favorite scene in the film after the confrontation between De Niro and Pacino.

  3. Completely agree about Righteous Kill, one of the most confused films I’ve ever seen.

    • I actually never saw it, mostly because I heard how bad it was. Thanks for commenting.

      • Well to confirm your suspicions it is bad, and you might think ‘Oh, well the star power might save it’, with a script that bad, and just so…depthless it’s not worth anyone’s time.

  4. I have never seen this!! I was not even aware of it for some reason, but I’ll have to check this out! DeNiro and Pacino in the same movie? Sign me up!!

    • It’s a great movie. De Niro and Pacino share only one big scene together and it lived up to my expectations. Thanks for commenting.

  5. LOVE me some Heat! Well said!

    • Thanks! Heat’s great.

  6. Good review. It’s a tad too long, but still pretty thrilling and entertaining. De Niro and Pacino are both great and that diner scene will forever live in infamy.

    • Thanks! That diner scene was great, my favorite part of the movie (though the heist comes to a close second).

  7. One of my all time favourites, incredible film 🙂

    • It is an incredible movie. I wish we can see De Niro and Pacino in another film and hopefully the rumors about Scorsese making a film with the two are true. Thanks for commenting.

  8. Amen! It’s one of the best scenes when the two gods of mob are at the table talking.Highly anticipated scene there.

    • That is a great scene and lives up to all the hype. Thanks for commenting.

  9. LOVE this movie. Pacino and DeNiro were at their best here.

    • It is a great movie and both De Niro and Pacino are in top form. Thanks for commenting.

  10. Nice review, man! This is a great film indeed with one of the best heist scenes I have ever seen.

    • Thanks! The heist scene was great and so elaborately done.

  11. Superb is right! I really need to rewatch this soon, one of my fave Michael Mann’s thrillers!

    • This is a pretty great movie. I think it’s between this or The Insider as my favorite Mann film. Thanks for commenting.

      • Glad you like The Insider too, yep that and this one are definitely in my top 5. Come to think of it, I should do a Michael Mann’s list 😀

  12. Great review. I don’t like the film as much as you do, but it is still entertaining and a lot of fun to watch. The diner scene between De Niro and Pacino is fantastic, best moment of the film.

    • Thanks! That diner scene was pretty awesome and lived up to the hype.

  13. I can’t believe that I haven’t seen this yet. Great review, though.

    • Thanks! I highly recommend it

  14. I liked the movie but was disappointed with the ending. I knew what was going to happen; I knew he would go back and get caught. I think there are more interesting heist movies (though much different). My all-time favorites include: Reservoir Dogs, The Spanish Prisoner, and The Usual Suspects.

    • The ending is a little predictable, but the movie’s still great. I think my favorite heist movie would be between Reservoir Dogs and The Killing. Thanks for commenting.

  15. Cracking film, and great performances. I agree with you when you say Val Kilmer’s performance is underrated above too. Nice review!

    • Thanks! Kilmer’s performance is pretty overlooked in this film.

  16. What can said that hasn’t already? Quite simply, this is a modern masterpiece. The teaming of DeNiro and Pacino did not disappoint and the less said about Righteous Kill, the better. 😉

    • It is a great film and it lived up to my anticipation of it. I haven’t seen Righteous Kill, mostly because of how disappointing and bad it was. Thanks for commenting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: