Heat (1995)

Review by CJ


Michael Mann

Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Danny Trejo

Other notable appearances:
Dennis Haysbert, Amy Brenneman, Diane Venora, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Jon Voight, Hank Azaria, William Fitcher, Henry Rollins, Jeremy Piven

Running time:
170 minutes

Watch this if you liked:
Public Enemies, The Godfather Part II


After a group of guards are murdered at a heist perpetrated by Neil McCauley (De Niro) and his crack team of thieves, homicide detective Vincent Hanna (Pacino) sets his sight on arresting them. Can McCauley’s gang pull off one more score with the heat coming down on them?

I don’t know how I have missed seeing Heat over the years but I’m very glad that I keep following up on recommendations. Heat is a thoroughly enjoyable crime drama with some of the biggest names in cinema from the 90s to today.

De Niro and Pacino’s characters only really interact in two scenes throughout the film’s 170 minutes. Both times that they interact are poignant moments. Not only does their first scene together showcase two brilliant actors but it also perfectly commences the game of cat and mouse the two men play throughout the rest of the film.

Natalie Portman was only 14 years old when Heat was released. Yet her portrayal of the damaged step-daughter to Pacino’s Vincent was outstanding. Ashley Judd also gave a remarkable performance as the long-suffering wife of Val Kilmer’s Chris. She is only in a handful of scenes but you never quite know what she is going to do.

Heat is a very long film so it did take me three sittings to get through. However, I don’t think there are many ways the film could be significantly shortened and still be as good. There were some plot points that upon first examination, I thought they were easily expendable. However, upon closer inspection, they were there to further the character development of interacting characters. Without those plot points, the ruthlessness and kindness of the different characters would not have been as apparent.

I would recommend Heat to fans of crime drama as it has now become one of my favourite representations of the crime drama genre. It would also be worth a look for fans of gangster films as it does have similarities to many traditional gangster movies. Keep in mind that you’ll need to set aside three hours and strap yourself in for quite a ride.

4.5 Stars

“My life’s a disaster zone. I got a stepdaughter so fucked up because her real father’s this large-type asshole. I got a wife, we’re passing each other on the down-slope of a marriage – my third – because I spend all my time chasing guys like you around the block. That’s my life.”

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