Hunters and their prey—Neil and his professional criminal crew hunt to score big money targets (banks, vaults, armored cars) and are, in turn, hunted by Lt. Vincent Hanna and his team of cops in the Robbery/Homicide police division…
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I think Michael Mann has never made a better film than this one. His LA - illuminated with cold green and blue metallic colors - is a mirror of the frozen and unemotional relationships of the main characters. Mann often underlines this by encircling his actors with a moving camera to create a narrow space - a kind of invisible cage - around them.
A crime epic of blurry lights, beleaguered men and weary glances. In my initial trepidatious relationship with Heat, I didn't notice the visual poetry and weird pop tragedy that pulsates throughout it. Mann's own unique brand of hyperbole still doesn't always match my own tastes, but it's clear that this is a masterful film, exciting and stirring in the purest senses of those words.
Mann's direction is surprisingly analytical, eschewing directorial flourishes for a pitch-perfect screenplay that focuses on characterizations and dramatic conflicts, and the emotion therein. Mann grounds the story so much in detail and the modus operandi of the police/criminals that even its extraordinary elements feel realistic. Heat may be routine in its plot, but the handling of its detail marks it a masterpiece.
Mann is this wildly inspired visual stylist whose main job has always been to make silly godawful movies exceedingly fascinating to look at. This really is peak Mann silly awfulness. The screenplay is maybe kinda smart in terms of basic story mechanics, but I'm certain that at least 75% of the worst dialogue of the 90s is pasted to this sucker. It demonstrates a value system so utterly vile as to provoke calumny.
This is how you make a crime epic. Michael Mann has a special knack for capturing the essence of the criminal underworld and he hit perfection with this masterpiece, especially with two acting titans like DeNiro and Pacino trading blows in one of the best games of cat and mouse ever committed to the cinema.
So my contention was that Pacino was a better actor than DeNiro. The problem was that Pacino lost his mind after his early triumphs and decided to eat the scenery. He calmed down a bit for this movie. At this time DeNiro was actually ahead, but for this movie I think it was a tie. Of course now DeNiro is way overexposed. I still think if you compare the best of both actors Pacino wins. "Attica! Attica!"