A methodical and elegantly cinematic piece that doesn't rely on shock value but at the same time it doesn't quite manage to avoid the hypermasculinity patterns that are so typical of its genre. There were some soap-operatic and corny dialogues here and there too but who cares. Also the score was AMAZING.
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.
A tragedy of the dazzling pressure of being a man who must practice some kind of alchemy in his work, to prosper without losing selfhood in the course of the pursuit. Neil McCauley is so good at it that he forgets it's a means to an end, but that end is the hard part, you can't construct it. Chris Shiherlis is the real foil to his character as he unfailingly, unrequitedly put his woman first, and (spoiler) he lives.
I can't believe it took me this long to watch it. DeNiro and Pacino going for their final lap with Michael Mann on top form. It could've been a good ol' procedural with goodies vs baddies but the script is very tight and the three hours pass by in a minute. I feel like the 21th century cinema harvested a lot from this crop.
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.
So, first time they see each other Vincent says: ''We're sitting here like a coupla regular fellas. You do what you do. I do what I gotta do. What happens if I am there and I got to put you away? I won't like it. But, if it's between you and some poor bastard whose wife you're going to make into a widow, brother, you are gonna go down.''
Essentially a grown–up game of cops and robbers and their women with the sprawl of Greater Los Angeles as the boundaries. Mann continues his spree of crime films with this lumbering feat delivering some of the most realistic and riveting action sequences the genre has ever known. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino form each other’s greatest threats. When the two best actors of their generation finally meet – unbeatable.