Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Michael Mann

REVIEWED: 09-22-97

Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Diane Venora and Amy Brenneman

From the "Not New but Recommended" vault, director Mann (Thief, Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans) remakes his 1989 TV movie L.A. Takedown by bringing two acting titans together in one of the most intelligent crime-thrillers to come along in years. Pacino plays LAPD Detective Vincent Hanna on the trail of career criminal Neil McCauly (De Niro) and his crew of high-stakes thieves. Once Hanna and his team of detectives sniff out McCauly's trail after a botched armed robbery hit, Heat becomes a mesmerizing and relentless cat-and-mouse game where the bad guys are always one step ahead. What's so effective is the intriguing character examination we find at the heart of the film: Hanna is the driven detective whose dedication is leading to a third divorce. McCauly is the cold loner who lives by one supreme principle: "Do not become attached to something you can't walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner." Although the two share little screen time together, Pacino and De Niro's scenes are poignant and gripping. Some might have expected the two to collide like forces of nature, but in a high noon scene that should go down in cinematic history, the two merely talk life and realize they are essentially the same. Interestingly, this scene is based on a real-life encounter one of Mann's detective friends had with a criminal he was after (they too shared words over coffee). Hanna and McCauly eventually meet again in one of the greatest bank robbery/shoot-out scenes ever that is beautifully chaotic and masterfully edited (last January's Bank of America shoot-out in L.A. was an eerie reenactment). With a stellar cast including Val Kilmer and Jon Voight, Heat has it all including a great soundtrack full of tone-setting, ambient, and symphonic arrangements.

--Simon Cote

Capsule Reviews

Other Films by Michael Mann
The Insider

Film Vault Suggested Links
In Too Deep
The Mod Squad
The Corruptor

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