Monday, December 22, 2008

Heat (1995)

Continuing on the theme of watching movies I should’ve seen years ago comes this week’s offering: Heat (1996). Billed as the first meeting of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, this movie is typical Michael Mann. I don’t know if it’s his shot composition or his use of colors/soundtrack, but all of Mann’s films evoke the same general feeling.

De Niro is a master criminal whose crew operates like a finely tuned machine. After a brilliant armored car robbery to open the film, Pacino’s LAPD detective starts to track down De Niro and stop him before the next heist. The rest of the movie splits time between the two hard-edged men who are tenacious in going after their goals.

Many people complain that De Niro and Pacino share almost no screen time (save the diner scene and the denouement). While it would’ve been cool to see them together more, the separation made their eventual meeting(s) all the more impactful.

I’m not ga-ga over this movie like a lot of people are, but it was an enjoyable time. The opening armored car robbery and the bank heist are two awesome set pieces. Well worth the price of admission.

I also liked the familiar faces popping up. De Niro’s crew was Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, and Danny Trejo. Their opening score was taken from William Fichtner and fenced through John Voight. Pacino’s cops were Ted Levine and Mykelti Williamson (of the late, lamented Boomtown). Not to mention supporting roles played by Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Dennis Haysbert, and cameos from Hank Azaria, Tone Loc, and Xander Berkeley.

The movie’s not for everyone, but if you’re a fan of Mann, definitely check it out.

1 comment:

Cormac Brown said...

Mann definitely uses the same shots throughout his films. Medium shots for the action and distant shots for the explosions.

Of course every actor loves that he uses those extreme close ups every time the dialogue gets intense and with the exception of his "Miami Vice" movie, which had some night time shots that were rather murky, he uses the same lighting in all of his post-"Thief" films.

I enjoyed "Heat" when it came out, but it loses its magic with each progressive viewing. What I really find interesting is the influence it has on crime literature. I can't tell you how many books I've picked up and I'll hear the echoes of "Heat" in bits of dialogue, or how the scenes are staged.