Sunday, October 13, 2019

Heat (1995)

Michael Mann's movie Heat is an intellegent and action packed crime thriller that has script that and story that has enough depth that the characters and there stories are able to breathe.I can see why this film in time remains one of the top films by viewers, sitting comfortably in the middle of the top 250 (as a film I had not yet, until recently seen). Like many crime dramas the characters and their connections seem to be fairly typical -- a professional thief, his less disciplined crew, and a mission. But the balance between action, story, and character study in this film is highly compelling.

Apparently, the original plan was that this would be a television show, and the pilot got boiled down to a standalone TV film called L.A. Takedown - but it's clear to me watching the film that Mann had a whole series in him and that these chracters, namely the police detective Vincent Hanna (here played by Al Pacino) and thief Neil McCauley (here played by Robert DeNiro) have the storyline and police/criminal dance to sustain at least a season of television. In the current era of television, a show like this would have been a hit. As a nearly 3 hour movie, the story fits, but you can sense that these characters have a depth in the mind of Mann that extend beyond this tale. Like other shows of this time, the depth of the cast is fun to see in their roles - beyond Pacino and DeNiro you have Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Amy Brenneman, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Natalie Portman, Dennis Haysbert and Mykelti Williamson.

I suppose in this exercise, of watching the top 250 films you ask "is this one of the best best of all time." I know it wouldn't hit nearly as high on my own list as it hits here - but in the crime genre, I can appreciate the high crimes drama, the characters, the way the city of Los Angeles is in many ways presented as a character itself, and some classic performances by some of the great of the era.

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