Heat is written and directed by Michael Mann. It stars Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Ashley Judd, Amy Brennerman and Danny Trejo. Music is scored by Elliot Goldenthal and cinematography by Dante Spinoti.
Big time thief Neil McCauley (DeNiro) is after one last major score before he retires, but hot on his tail is Vincent Hannah (Pacino), a cop equally and methodically as driven as he is himself.
In the build up to Heat's release, much was made of it being the first on screen pairing of DeNiro and Pacino. A mouthwatering prospect for sure, it proved to be worth the wait and unfolds as a lesson in restrained acting with two modern greats affording each other the respect that was due. What we didn't realise in the build up to the film's release, was that it would prove to be one of the greatest cops and robbers movies of all time, brought to us by an auteur director whose kink for realism and commitment to research stands him out from much of the modern directing pack.
Rarely does a film come together as one, where all the cogs of the engine are in tune, but Heat is one such picture. From cast performances to visual aesthetics, to screenplay and actual substance of story, Heat is as meticulous as it is thrilling. There are a myriad of characters brilliantly stitched together in one de-glamorised City of Angels, as plot develops, and each character and their crumbling relationships come under inspection, we are witnessing a coarse viewpoint of human nature, where people's lives are ended or defined by their choices. Everywhere you look, here, there are folk cracking under the strain of being exposed to high end crime, dreams, hopes and happiness are unlikely to be achieved, and this is on both sides of the law.
For Heat, Mann fuses the tonal and visual ticks of Manhunter with that of the adrenalin rushes from Last of the Mohicans, with the former gorgeously born out by Spinoti's pin sharp photography, the latter thrillingly realised by Mann's skill at action set pieces. Once again word of mouth about the key heist and shoot out in the film led to high expectation, and again there is no disappointment. L.A. becomes a battle ground, rapid gunfire punctures the air, cars swerve and crash, bodies fall, visually and aurally it drags you to the edge of your seat, an extended action sequence fit to sit with the best of them. The kicker as well is that because Mann has been so detailed in his characterisations, we care about what happens to all parties, we understand motives and means. Which in a film with such a huge support cast is quite an achievement.
There is enough in Heat to fill out a dozen other cops and robbers films, fans of neo-noir and crime films in general are spoilt supreme here. It's not rocket science really, put a group of great actors together, give them an intelligent script to work from and let them be guided by a director who will not sit still, and you get a great film. Heat, the ultimate predator and prey movie, where from beginning to end it refuses to be lazy or cop out, and energy and thought seeps from every frame. 10/10
Although Manhunter is my favourite Michael Mann film, Heat is a far more polished exercise in movie making. Stylish, well photographed and fast-paced, but with elements of slower, more thoughtful action. You can often feel more empathy with the villain than the hunter at times. Despite their limited screen time together, you'd feel that Pacino and De Niro had been action opposite each other for years, even though this was their first joint effort as far as shared screen-time goes (they were never together in Godfather II).
Val Kilmer receives a lot of heat (pun intended) for his performance, but I feel that is unjustified as his character isn't fleshed out enough, possibly deliberately so as not to detract from the two main stars' roles.
The primary extra (along with Mann's commentary) is a hour-ling making of documentary. It's interesting but not an essential watch in my opinion. The picture quality is (as you'd hope) a big step up from my old VHS copy, which I'd never replaced with a DVD.
All in all, a very enjoyable watch which should lead to repeat viewings for most people.
After having chosen to see this in the local flea pit picture house way back when and whilst being far too young to genuinely 'get' the film in its entirety I bought the film on DVD. After rewatching it I started to 'get' it. And then on blu ray I think I'm there. Anyhoo any film that has (deep breath) Ashley Judd, Amy Breneman, Diane Venora, Natalie Portman, Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, Dennis Haysbert, Ted Levine, Mykelti Williamson, Danny Trejo, Wes Studi, Hank Azaria, AND William Fichtner has gotta be worth a watch. And Heat goes way above and beyond its stunning, stellar ensemble cast. From the epic opener via a tragic middle assault to the final gut punching moment this film excels in all areas. The coffee shop scene(s) are as good as the robbery scene(s). And finally the troika of Pacino (OTT but oh so entertaining), Deniro (working hard to get us to feel for him) and Kilmer (as good here as he ever has been). Celluloid heaven, baby.
Michael Mann's superb 1995 drama featuring two of Holywood's greatest actors Pacino & De Niro with arguably the finest bank robbery shootout ever set to film is still one of the best action films of recent times but unfortunately this Blu Ray transfer to disc is a disappointment being only slightly better than the standard DVD.
The sound roproduction is appauling and ruins a great film, with the dialogue almost illegible at times.
The picture quality only slightly better than standard DVD does not do the film justice and what should have been a 5 star film only deserves 3.
It is a bit better than the normal DVD film version but not significantly so to justifie buying it on BluRay, this is not in my opinion a 1080HD film transfer with the 2-45min film missing significant detail in both picture and sound.
If you have a BluRay i am sure many many will buy it expecting great things, but expect to be disappointed.
Heat is one of my favourite films and would rate as five stars if we were only talking about the film. Unfortunately the blu-ray conversion isn't up to the standard of the film. The picture quality is better than DVD but not up the normal blu-ray quality that you would expect. What really drags the blu-ray down though is the sound, which is sub par to put it politely. The sound is very quiet (I had to have the sound much higher than I normally would and even then it didn't sound very clear. Also at times it seemed to be out of sink with the picture.