A heist movie that isn’t really a heist movie!
Written By: Michael Mann
Directed By: Michael Mann
Michael Mann is a director with a visual eye that I admire. There are plenty of directors who make great looking films, but there are very few directors who make great looking films with a massive scope to them. Michael Mann is one of those directors, his films look great on a massive scale, yet they never feel ungainly, they look and feel like orchestrated madness on an epic level. No matter what may happen with the story I always know that I will visually get something out of a Michael Mann film.
Story isn’t a problem in Heat, because this is a film that doesn’t rely solely on Mann’s visual abilities. It opens with a really good set-up, it is slick and suspenseful and the armored car job is well done from a technical and planning standpoint. The story takes on a large feel right away, but it never strays from intimate portraits of its characters. By the end of the movie nothing large has done the gang in, but rather it is the little things and their attachment to family that has ended their run. That story point is held throughout the film and it pays off in the climax.
At the risk of ruffling some feathers, I was not a fan of Al Pacino at moments in Heat. At certain times he was too demonstrative and played the role too big and over the top for my liking. Robert De Niro was great as his counterpart, and he kept his role contained, which I liked. The supporting cast featured some great character actors, and I dare you to beat Wes Studi as a cop, because you can’t!
The locales used in Heat brought a lot to the film, mainly because certain locations appeared wide open and added to the massive scope of the film. From what appeared to be an abandoned drive-in to the street outside the bank, some fabulous locales were used in Heat. The locales are especially evident in the way the action flows through them. Mann shoots great action scenes, but he avoids claustrophobia, his action never feels cramped. He shoots in lots of wide open areas because that gives his characters the room to move.
Outside of Pacino’s overacting, there were a couple of things that didn’t jive with me. The coffee sit down serves a point thematically, I understand the duality of De Niro, Pacino and how they are more alike than they realize. However, for me it didn’t fit with the tone of the movie, it felt like it was wedged in just so that Pacino and De Niro could have a chance to act off of each other. Maybe I missed it, but how would Natalie Portman know where Pacino’s hotel was? It was rather sudden that he got a hotel and Portman had vanished from the movie for some time at that point, so her being there didn’t feel all that logical.
I enjoy Heat for its scope and for its slick and fast nature. Heat is one of those three hour long movies that doesn’t feel like it is three hours long. Heat has a few flaws, it’s not a perfect movie, but those flaws don’t deter much from the greatness contained in the movie. My exposure to Michael Mann is very limited, previous to Heat I had only seen The Last Of The Mohicans, but based on Heat I look forward to seeing more of his work.