Monday, May 09, 2005

Re-Issue: Heat (1995)

Apart from David Fincher’s psychological thriller “Seven,” Michael Mann’s “Heat” holds the record as the movie I have seen the most times. I lost count after thirty-something, but I can assure you it is much higher than that. This is the 10 year anniversary of the release of “Heat” and it has dawned on me that for some reason or another people still haven’t seen this movie.

“Heat” has an all-star cast. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Joh Voight, Tom Sizemore, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Hank Azaria, henry Rollins, Tone Loc. The list goes on and on as the movie is fairly long and just filled with different characters.

Fundamentally, “Heat” is about a high-line crew of robbers and the police who pursue them. But it is not just a standard cops-and-robbers film. I’ve seen only a handful of films that are so tightly directed and written; this film stays so close to the subject matter that it is astounding how many different stories it manages to tell without ruining the flow of the screenplay.

Apart from criminals seeking riches and police preventing crime, somewhere in this action epic is a dialectic about cops and robbers. De Niro plays a robber who is not only in it for the money, but is seeking something more. A more conventional film would chalk it up to a criminal needing a cop chasing after him. But that’s not it. De Niro doesn’t want the cat-and-mouse chase, nor is De Niro a thrill seeker. It is something else.

Pacino plays Lt. Hanna, a divorced cop who seems to be on the prowl constantly. Apart from his wonderful demeanor and great lines, there’s something fundamentally disquieting about his existence. Again, a standard movie would fill in the blank: cops need robbers to chase. However, that doesn’t quite fit in this film.

There’s a scene in the movie where De Niro and Pacino sit down and have a conversation, talking about their lives, their weaknesses, their dreams and their dependencies. Both have lives that are vacant and hollowed out. True, both need each other. But this movie goes further. Both respect each other. You can almost feel them smiling at one another across the table, knowing they are confronting someone who understands the situation as well as they do. Yet, they hold back. They purse their lips, they blink and they look away. It’s all under the surface. It’s kinetic.

In addition to amazing casting and no frills dialogue, “Heat” is probably the best action film I have ever seen. Every action scene is unbelievable, including the greatest bank robbery scene ever made [Note: if you are watch, I implore you to watch with the volume up]. Other than frogs falling from the sky in “Magnolia” and Tom Hanks frozen on the beaches of Normandy in “Saving Private Ryan,” the robbery scene in “Heat” is my best experience in a movie theater.

If you have never seen “Heat,” buy the DVD this weekend. If you’ve already seen “Heat,” buy the DVD this weekend.

For more information, see RogerEbert.com and IMDB.com.

1 comment:

Evan Diamond said...

I'm glad that this kid got a blog so he can finally tell the whole world about his love for "Heat" and his animus toward the disingenous ingenuity of Apple. Don't let him fool you; his favorite action film is the remake of "Gone in 60 Seconds."