When Pacino's loud, bruised cop and De Niro's canny crook stare at each other, you can read something spent and weary in their eyes and voices. The heat is hell. So are their jobs -- but somebody's got to do them.
Just when it seemed that the only hope for crime movies lay in the postmodernist artifice of films like Pulp Fiction, Mann reinvests the genre with brooding, modernist conviction. This one sticks to your gut.
There's nothing really new in this lengthy 1995 thriller by writer-director Michael Mann about cops and robbers in Los Angeles, but it has craft, pacing, and an overall sense of proportion, three pretty rare classic virtues nowadays.
Michael Mann and a superlative cast have taken a classic heist movie rife with familiar genre elements and turned it into a sleek, accomplished piece of work, meticulously controlled and completely involving.
Boosters and touts use the term 'major movie' so often that it's more likely to generate yawns than excitement at this point. Back to basics. Heat is a major movie. With major stars. Doing major acting.