Heat (1995) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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For today’s IMDB Top 250 guest review, we have the Scottish (Scottish accents are the BEST!) Mark of the brilliant Marked Movies site. Mark has awesome hair (although he apparently no longer has that hairdo in his pic here) and has boat drinks (I still have no idea what that means) and writes wonderful movie reviews. He also has GREAT taste in movies (as in, we seem to like a lot of the same types of films and I have really cool taste). Well, he likes Raging Bull a hell of a lot more than I did… Anyway – he’s a popular blogger that everyone wants to have a drink with so check out his site if, for some odd reason, you haven’t already.

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE.

Now onto Mark for his thoughts on the movie Heat, IMDB rank 119 out of 250…

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Director: Michael Mann.
Screenplay: Michael Mann.
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Kevin Gage, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Danny Trejo, Dennis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Natalie Portman, Tom Noonan, Hank Azaria, Henry Rollins, Tone Loc, Jeremy Piven, Xander Berkeley, Martin Ferrero, Bud Cort.

When this was released in 1995, most people believed it to be an original idea. It wasn’t. It was actually a more fleshed out and elborate version of Michael Mann’s 80′s TV movie “L.A. Takedown“. He obviously didn’t have the budget or the actors, to realise his vision at this time, so with a second chance, Mann grabs it with both hands and both of the best actors in the business.

Professional and precise thief Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) lives by a strict code and doesn’t take chances. He has a tight-knit crew that takedown big jobs for big money but he ends up drawing the attention of determined and obsessive robbery/homicide cop Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino). The two of them have more in common than one might think and as their worlds draw closer, they are led to an inevitable confrontation.

At it’s core, “Heat” can be viewed as an old fashioned cops-and-robbers tale but it’s done with such vastness and great attention to detail that it rises above most, if not all, of the genre. It not only focuses on the the lives of the two main characters – at opposite ends of the moral scale – but it pays attention to the city and environment in which they operate. What almost overshadowed the storyline, was the anticipation of seeing DeNiro and Pacino share the screen for the first time (They were both in “The Godfather part II” but never had any scenes together). Comparisons between their acting styles will obviously be made and without focusing too much on their different approaches, I found DeNiro’s more subtle, calculating delivery far more convincing than Pacino’s tendency to overact with random, explosive outbursts, bellowing at everyone he meets. There, I said it. However, the film is far more than just these two great actors. It’s a multi-layered character study and the supporting roles, particularly Sizemore and Kilmer (in a role originally intended for Keanu Reeves) are given a substantial amount of work and the female parts of Venora, Brenneman and Judd play a massive part in shaping the leads also. We are given a glimpse into their home lives and the struggle they all face in maintaining a ‘normal’ life – when it goes against their nature. The actors are all given roles to work with, allowing us to identify and care about them. It’s because of this, that when the action is delivered, it’s edge of your seat stuff. There are three great ‘Getaway’ scenes from movies that I found particularly powerful; Kathryn Bigelow’s “Point Break” had Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze (on foot) running through suburban houses and backyards; The opening of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” had Ryan Gosling (in a car) careening and speeding through a darkened urban jungle and this… the major characters (with weapons) shooting it out through a busy congested Los Angeles street. As much as this isn’t just about the two leads, it’s not just about the action either. It’s more about the city itself and it’s inhabitants. The refined dialogue allows these inhabitants to come alive and Mann’s meticulous, hypnotic direction and ethereal choice of music breathes life into the city as well.

An exciting and methodical piece of work from a highly accomplished cast and director. A near masterpiece of modern cinema.

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Mark Walker

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42 thoughts on “Heat (1995) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

  1. Ha! Thank you for that little introduction there. For the record, my hair looks better now and I’ll give you an idea of how to find out what Boat Drinks are… Watch the film “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead”. It’ll explain everything and well worth seeing anyway.

    • Seconded! (The ‘Denver’ part, I have no idea about the hair!). Nice review, I haven’t watched this in ages but it’s one of my favourites from the 90s. Brilliant film.

      • Ha! Boat Drinks Stu. Glad to hear you know the film. I’m actually surprised how many haven’t seen it.

        As for Heat, it’s top quality. So many layers to it and unlike most cops and robbers stories, it’s in no rush and pays as much attention to its characters as it does the heists.

    • Thank YOU for the great review, Mark! So glad you joined in on this project. : ) Sorry – was at work earlier & unable to reply to comments. Ahhh – I see. Is that the gun up butt movie?? Never seen it. Mystery solved on the boat drinks thing! (Sort of). ; )

      • Gun up butt meaning – Buckwheats? That’s the one!!!
        My brother Eric and I chat a lot and it became a running moniker that we choose to end most of our conversations in true Denver style.

        A pleasure to involved Disco Girl. A pleasure! 🙂

        Boat Drinks!!!

      • Oh – I should mention the movie. 🙂 I liked Heat a lot at the time. You’ve reminded me once again that I need to re-watch it. Mainly only remember the Moby ending. And the De Niro/Pacino conversation thanks to that DJ Shadow song that sampled it! And I’ll agree with this – De Niro is the better actor of the two. I think we have LA Takedown. Is it worth watching too?

        Boat Drinks! (As long as that’s not a dirty thing or something) : )

      • I don’t think Heat ever tires from a rewatch. If anything it benefits from it. Moby’s music is certainly memorable and DeNiro and Pacino play it wisely and reservedly when they face each other. You know my bias towards DeNiro but his stoic and restrained approach was the way to go here. I love Pacino to bits but he does overplay his hand on occasion. In fact, in some scenes where he bellows (like he often does) he really shows a weakness. DeNiro never feels the need to do that. His character could easily have came across as the maniac, unhinged thief but he brings a depth and understanding to his character that allows us to relate to him. It’s DeNiro’s approach that actually makes the dynamic work as well as it does. So many cops/robbers movies are formulaic in determining the good from the bad but that angle doesn’t exist in Heat. DeNiro does (arguably) bad things but he’s not a bad man and that’s what makes the film more of a character study than it is a slab-bang heist/crime movie. There’s too many layers for it to succumb to usual nonsense tang we’re used to seeing.

      • Added to which, I wouldn’t bother with LA Takedown. It’s a sub-par TV movie that Mann obviously couldn’t quite get to work. For what it is, it’s fine but this was a director that had a vision and TV at the time wasn’t allowing him to realise that vision.

  2. This is one of those films where I could absolutely see why it was good, but at the same time I just didn’t enjoy it… and I’m not even sure if I can explain why!

  3. Great review, Mark. I saw this in the mid-90s, when I was young it was new. I remember thinking it was just fine, not great, not bad, just fine. Maybe I was too young to appreciate it.

    Guess I need to rewatch it soon.

    • Thanks J. Personally, it blew me away when I seen even though I had already seen Mann’s TV movie LA Takedown which is pretty much identical in terms of the story. With Heat, though, he fleshed out the characters and environment and I see it as one of the very best of its sub-genre. You should give it another go, man.

  4. Solid review, Mark! I need to watch this film again asap. Mann totally rocked this film and he knows how to get the most from his actors. Great work, man!

    • Cheers Vic. Totally agree. Mann really takes his time with it and wrings out everything he can from the characters, the actors, the environment and the action scenes. It’s just class.

      • So true and Mann has incredible timing with his material. He knows how to let actors get the most of the story and when and if it does not fit the parameters of the direction he shows a lean talent for reeling them in to fit the overall vision.

        For example the diner scene with Pacino and De Niro could have been a scenery chewing nightmare but he makes it work. So awesome. Just classic cinema right there.

      • Mentioning the Diner scene is absolute proof that Mann has compete control, Vic. I couldn’t agree more. I remember a few people felling disappointed with the very first ever scene between DeNiro and Pacino but I thought it was controlled genius. The both tone is right down and that’s a piece of classic cinema that just gets better every time.

    • Cheers Alex. Yeah, Kilmer certainly seems to have fallen from grace doesn’t he?

      Glad you mention the closing music by Moby. Wonderful piece music that I listen to often myself.

  5. Nice work Muckers!! (HA HA Hi Fucker LOLOLOLOL)

    No mention of the infamous elbow??

    Boat Drinks!!

    (Mutant, watch Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead and you can have Boat Drinks with us)

  6. Pingback: IMDB Top 250 Guest Review Recap | Cinema Parrot Disco

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