Heat - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Heat Reviews

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December 8, 2016
Oh my goodness! One of the best action movies of all time! Five stars hands down! The best movie performance by DeNiro & Pacino together, the dialogue at the Diner, priceless! Waynegrow, the most ruthless, back stabbing, villainous snake in the grass in history! All you want to do is see him get busted! Great watch, go see it!
½ December 4, 2016
This film is a must watch for fans of acting, for fans of suspense, for fans of engrossing dramas/crime thrillers, for fans of amazing screenplays and for movie fans in general. Al Pacino is amazing in this movie as Robert De Niro. Val Kilmer also gives a good performance. The direction in this movie is masterful as is the cinematography. There is an ambiance/atmosphere/feel to the movie that just sucks you right in. It is grounded with full characters unpredictable and for those expecting a heavily-packed action movie are going to be dissapointed. This movie isn't one to sit back an eat popcorn. This sucks you right and takes up your full attention, with the talking scenes just as suspensful and intriguing as the action. It is almost as if the direction is aimed for action allthroughout. One thing that I adored that this movie does is it is symmetrical almost. There is literal symmetry in alot of shots and in the plot itself. This is to represent how similar the two characters really are, they appear to be opposite ends of the spectrum but in reality are just a fine line away between each other. The supporting cast is great which I also like as it is easy to just focus on these two characters but there are other arcs, making the characters and the stakes even more real. My FAVOURITE part of this movie is how it never presents a character to you and makes you like him and root for him. It is as I said, a symmetrical film. In the suspensful moments I was on the edge holding my breath, as I love both the "good" guys and the "bad" guys but in reality in the film there are no good or bad guys, just two sides you both love. Drawing all these points together heat is a masterful, dialogue driven movie with amazing action set peices when it comes to them, great cinematography, well rounded characters and a must watch. The only flaw I have is that it took a bit of time for me to really get 100% interested but apart from that the run time doesn't feel long at all. It is definetly worth a watch.
November 24, 2016
Long film has some good action scenes. The shared screen time between De Niro and Pacino is the highlight. Tom Hiddleston does a killer impression set (doing both parts) of said scene in the diner. On Blu-ray.
November 14, 2016
When a crew of professional career criminals comprising of Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) and his crew; Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore), and Trejo (Danny Trejo), hire Waingro (Kevin Gage) to help them rob $1.6 million in bearer bonds from an armored car. In the process of the heist, Waingro impulsively kills a guard. Waingro clearly an unknown quantity and obviously a psychotic was clearly a mistake the crew realise much too late. McCauley in particular is full of rage and attempts to dispose of Waingro but fails.

Intensely dedicated and hungry senior Police Officier Lt Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) assigned to the case instantly recognises this is not the work of a bunch of amatuers and this is a professionally focused crew that he intends to take down. McCauley's fence Nate suggests that they can sell the bonds back to it's owner, a money launderer by the name of Van Zant (William Fitchner). Van Zant agrees but intends to teach them a lesson for stealing from him, although Zant is unaware how careful McCauley and crew are and when the attempt is foiled, McCauley vows revenge and chillingly intones to Zant that he's a dead man with a piece of the most memorable dialogue from the film.

Hanna in the process of investigating the crew grows to admire McCauley and his professionalism despite determined to bring him to justice, leading to a meeting in the now famous coffee shop sequence of the film. Waingro emerges to assist Van Zant in finding McCauley and his crew before they can get to him. Events are put in place as the film including an earth shuddering and visceral gun battle to end all gun battles pursues to it's sombre and emotionally charged ending.

As someone who was priviledged to have caught Heat on the original UK theatrical release (1996) I remember anticipating it greatly for the pedigree on display but not really quite ready for what I saw. My reason for revisiting this film I was lucky enough to see recently a new digital restoration of this film. This is something the film had desperately needed, even the much improved Blu ray presentation was not without issues. I'm happy to say that this version that was premiered recently at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theatre followed by a Q&A chaired by super fan Christopher Nolan who fielded questions to the attending cast and crew including Mann, De Niro, Pacino and cinematogrpaher Dante Spinotti amongst others is finally a fitting enough version of this much influential masterwork. The dialogue issues have been sorted and the 4K treatment has done nothing to alter it's film like appearance, no digital scrubbing evident here.

Heat certainly didn't echo anything that the decade had previously given us within the cop thriller genre. This absorbing meditation of crime with it's richly drawn characters and a cast to match with Italian American acting titans De Niro and Pacino at the lead stood out in an area of films that had become somewhat disposable and flashy in the 1980's and 90's.

Heat in comparrison did and still continues to sate my appetite for a thrilling and hugely entertaining piece of cinema that doesn't require I leave my brian disengaged. Michael Mann who meticulously researched and prepared before writing and directing this modern masterpiece. Mann had already impressed with Manhunter, the first film attempt at exploring Thomas Harris' Hannibal Lecter series as well as Thief but Heat saw him armed with a bigger budget than ever and the ace in his pocket two actors who the world had been waiting to see sparring on the screen together for decades. De Niro and Pacino had appeared in the same film but not sharing any screen time, this was the Godfather Part 2 where De Niro played the younger Vito Coreleone in flashback to Pacino's Michael in the present day.

Although certainly not all but some felt short changed at Mann's decison to keep both leading men while continuosly linked throughout the story to not meet on screen until the now much celebrated coffee shop sequence. They would cross each paths at the end but this meet up was one of the major talking points of the film on release and continues to be studied even now. While some felt they'd been cheated with the billing of these two on the poster to get one actual scene of proper dialogue my view then and now still is that less is indeed more.

On subsequent viewings leading up to it makes it that more rewarding when it arrives. It's not like fireworks are set off, it's actually just a simple conversation between 2 professionals that who admire each other but happen to sit on opposite sides of the fence. It's more that Mann doesn't make it a big deal that it becomes the legendary scene that other actors have lauded ever since it appeared. Though this isn't to do the rest of the film a disservice from the slow burn opening that leads to the tense bail bonds robbbery that puts the story in motion right up to the emotionally charged but sombre climax, Heat is an example of what can be accomplished within what had become a tired and worn genre.

A number of films have tried to match up to it's standard but failed, Ben Affleck's directed The Town is clearly taking inspiration but depite being an admirable work feels more like a tribute act than an original in it's own light. The more recent Triple 9 directed by John Hillcoat despite it's cast seems redundant and shallow in comparrison. It's fair to say the genre is yet to find a successor. As well as the complaints of the lack of screen time for the leads some of it's detractors seem to have expected something more action charged from the film, rather than at times a slow burn meditation of a film. Heat is given time to breathe offer characterisations. Mann offers enough of Hanna's home life for us to see that his job is well on its way to ruining his now third marriage. Diane Venora's Justine is a three dimensional character as opposed to the usual cliched cops wife and gets enough screentime to make this feel real and not just a plot device

Even fans of the film have talked about Pacino's tendency to overract and while I'm probably more of a fan of him than De Niro by a small margin I must admit as he's got older his acting has somewhat got less sublte and on occasions scenry chomping like. Although I would argue that Pacino essays Hanna quite brilliantly, he's a great counter point to De Niro's more reserved criminal. In the recent Q&A with Christopher Nolan Pacino revealed something that some had already suspected, that Hanna chipped cocaine to maintain his intensity. Hanna intones in one scene "It keeps me sharp, on the edge, where I gotta be" when he's explaining why he can't share his job details to his Wife Justine. Though the big shouty moments seem to get most of the attention though the real brilliance of his performance is the more subtle moments, the way he surveys a crime scene the way he commands his team, Pacino has clearly researched this role and this definitely comes through in his portrayal, it doesn't feel like he's just strapped on a gun and badge and is going through the motions.

McCauley's is more of a closed book and intentionally so, though from the moment he meets Amy Brenneman's Edie she opens him to an alternative to his current situation. By Allowing some variety into life and a someone to care about he betrays his usual life style that has abled him to maintain his profession so successfully. The complexity of his situation leads to his fate, he wants change but in the end he can't let go of his old life but then this new aspect he's invited in also contributes to where he ends up. The genre rarely offers such depth and it'a part of the reason the film has been reverred and it has resonated with many directors over last 2 decades. De Niro is simply like Pacino electrifying, his intensity his layered reading, while a methodical professional with a ruthless calculating mind but also loyal and clearly a caring friend and later lover.

Where some have sugggested De Niro has the edge I would argue neither comes out on top here. It's only on subsequent viewings you see that Pacino is easilly equal to De Niro, it's something that is likely to be debated over as it has been throughout their career who is the best? Well here for me they are equal and the wait to see them on the screen together was more than worth it.

With two leads a given, Heat also has an outstanding supporting cast, one thing the film does is remind you of what a talent Val Kilmer was. He's rarely been better and offers a layered portrayal of Chris Shiherlis. A gambling addiction which is impacting on his marriage to Charlene a career best performance from an excellent Ashley Judd. Their final scene together is heartbreaking, both depsite their problems clearly deeply love each other. Mann unlike some of his peers as with Verona can write exceptionally well for women, both are integral to their male counterpoints and not just thinly written stereotypes. Another actor that has disappeared off the radar at one point seem to have a promising career is Tom Sizemore, here as Michael Cheritto, while not quite as impressive as Kilmer and Judd he offers a superb performance as action junkie sociopath Cheritto. Dany Trejo is fine as Trejo although he's the least interesting of the group.

Hanna's team also offers more quality supporting roles, Mykelti Williamson's Sgt Drucker is probably the one who gets the most screentime, an incredibly gifted actor who not only gets some great dialogue but all has some great scenes, especially with Judd towards the end of the film. Ted Levine as Bosco makes the most of his screentime and Wes Studi is on fine form as loyal soldier Casals. The supporting cast is so rich with even a seasoned actor like Jon Voight gets a key but brief role as McCauley's fence Nate and Chris Noonan already having delivered a memorable turn in Mann's Manhunter appears briefly as well. With also Hank Azaria and Jeremey Piven making an appearance.

As well as the obvious heavy weight leads the other star here is obviously Michael Mann himself who not only presents his greateast directorial effort to date but also furnishes himself with a terrific script that serves all so impressively. Mann meticulously researched this before starting production and due to his connections with law enforcement was allowed to get a first hand experience, that he would channel into his script. The story has more than some basis in fact, Mann had already attempted to look at McCauley and Hanna's story when he directed a TV Movie L.A Takedown in 1989. McCauley was the fictional Patrick McClaren in the film, he changed it to the real life McCauley for Heat. Both films are based on the real life story of Neil McCauley a calcualting criminal who was eventually killed by real life Hanna Chuck Adamson. Voight's Nate is based on Edward Bunker a ex con, acclaimed author and also Mr Blue in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. Mann also is served by the legendary Dante Spinotti who imbues the film with it's distinctive look.


The film has some subplots that you can imagine a studio executive might have wanted gone to tighten up the film. One in particular has Dennis Haysbert as an ex con Breeden trying to rehabilitate back into sociey with the assistance of his wife. His predicament seeing him having to accept humilating employment where he's taken advantage of. His stories inclusion here though only makes sense later in the film and like with the key characters rather than some plot device he's a living breathing character that when we see his fate when he's unable to leave behind his old life not unlike McCauley we understand the tragedy fully of his predicamant. It's a testament to Mann to not remove it, when other less expertly made films would surely have cut it out to save on time. Mann actually doesn't believe Heat to be a genre film and there is some truth to this. Yes it does inhabit that world but it deals with other things like Chris and Charlenes marriage issues and also Hanna's trouble teenage step daughter played by the then 14 year old Natalie Portman.The disappointment of some that it's not more of a quick action fix is a tonic to others. This is the very opposite of the quick fire shallow Michael Bay like pyrothechnics that seemed to populate the 90's and beyond.

That being said Heat certainly doesn't short change us on action, ironically although it can't be described as an action film it delivers one segment that towers above any action sequence of that decade and beyond. When McCauley's crew pull their final job they walk straight out of the bank they have just robbed right into Hanna and his squad, they have no alternative but to battle it out with the high powered weapons they are carrying. Staying with the theme of realism, Mann employed the ex British special force (SAS) member Andy Mcnabb to stage the ensuing gun battle. The litteral deafening raining gun fire as McCauley and his men tried to evade capture and Hanna and team try to stop them. Think William Friedkin and Owen Roitzman's staging of their legendary car pursuit in the French Connection and apply that method to this scene and you'll get some idea of the sheer visceral intensity that is experienced.

Heat is simply a testament to what can be done with the good old fashioned cops and robbers theme invested with a top class cast and crew firing on all cylinders. It does not short change in any department, to be honest you could talk about this film for hours. The best way to appreciate this masterpiece is to watch it, if it's your first time boy you are in for a treat but if it's a film that you are more than familiar with, because of it's dense and epic content there is always something new to see within it's layers, Heat litterally is the gift that keeps giving.
November 13, 2016
A classic crime thriller, where you feel like a fly on the wall of two groups who are on completely opposing sides of the law. Plus you get Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in one. Golden.
November 7, 2016
Michael Mann made one of the greatest crime movies of the 1990s when he brought us Heat. He was helped in this venture by securing an absolutely stellar cast. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino are flawless in this film where they play opponents on the opposite side of the law. It is a complex game of cat and mouse where Pacino plays LA cop, Vince who is investigating the violent gang lead by De Niro's character, Neil. The two share the screen only fleetingly but there's a pivotal role where they meet over a coffee and the atmosphere just crackles with electricity. Being a Michael Mann film, it naturally looks amazing. As slick as a 1980s Athena print. It also has some of Mann's hallmark action sequences which are at times rather violent, but not gratuitously so. There's a scene of a bank heist which, when I first watched this movie back in the 1990s, was I thought the best such scene I'd ever seen. Twenty years on it still looks amazing, if rather OTT. Heat remain a slick, intelligent, stylish movie. It is elevated above merely looking good by a great script, superbly delivered by an ensemble of great Hollywood actors who were directed by a terrific master of his craft at the height of his game.
½ October 15, 2016
We already know what this writer and director is capable of by this point in his career, but despite that, Mann still manages to engrave a benchmark into the genre.

With two leading actors at the height of their power following the 80s redefining movement of violent crime thrillers, De Niro and Pacino manage to form a chemistry that an audience can attach to, even though they only share a fraction of scenes together.

With a sharp script, tightly controlled action sequences and both soundtrack and directorial attributes masterfully executed - Heat is an artful piece of cinema that influences other films for years to come. As well as the hugely successful Grand Theft Auto V, of course.
½ October 9, 2016
A masterpiece of tension and action
October 2, 2016
Top notch action thriller that is paced very well.
September 27, 2016
One of the movies I used to love.
½ September 19, 2016
"Who? Who? What are you, a fucking owl?" - Vincent Hanna

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, but when the two best actors of their generation finally meet - it's unbeatable.
September 19, 2016
Heat is just one of those films that most movie fans will insist you must see at some point, and I didn't have the pleasure (or desire) until now. I was a little nervous, because usually when cinephiles insist on a particular film, it isn't exactly the kind of fun escapism that I love. Luckily, Heat was a surprisingly great experience. Most people would probably jump right to the acting performances in a film like this, but the story is what enthralled me for the full (rather long) run-time. I've always enjoyed heist movies, and that whole cat-and-mouse game between cops and robbers is fascinating. This was one of the strongest versions of a heist film I've ever seen because it matches criminals who are at the top of their game against detectives who are also the best of the best. No one is doing something extremely stupid which leads to their downfall in this movie. Instead it is a battle of wits where both parties are acting very intelligently, and hoping that their skill is enough to come out on top. Thankfully, they don't needlessly bog us down in setup and flashbacks and all that nonsense, instead we get to know the characters and everything that is happening to them as the story progresses.

When I do start to look at the acting, it is almost flawless from the top of that cast list down to the bottom. Pacino vs. De Niro is obviously the big story, and they certainly make it something special. The contentious yet oddly respectful relationship that they form is great fun to watch and creates the perfect coda to the film. Essentially these 2 men are opposite sides of the same coin, they both see that in order to be the best at what they do they must abandon any attachment to people and things. And if they break that rule and form a strong connection it would put their job (even their life in danger.) That's why things end they way they do, but I won't spoil that here. Val Kilmer is the third wheel in this film, because he also gets a decent amount of character development, and I certainly like what he did with this performance. I'm not 100% sure why his character needed to be fleshed out in this way. I think perhaps it is for the sake of comparison and contrast with the path that De Niro takes in the end, but it's hard for me to say. I mean, I'm never going to complain much about some Kilmer in my movies, but if any character could have been cut down to shorten up the film it would be his.

The length didn't bother me as much as I expected it would. I can be a real whiner about movies that drag on too long, but through most of Heat I didn't really notice. I think they got me invested in the characters and anxious to see what would happen next, so a little extra time taken here or there didn't bother me too much. There were some definite scripting issues in the film. It is somewhat light on dialogue (which I like) but when people are having heart-to-heart conversations they sometimes talk in ways that are overly scripted. There's one scene where Diane Venora is talking to Al Pacino and I thought "is she quoting some crappy Shakespeare or something??" It was so artificial and dramatically far removed from anything a normal human being would say in that situation. Most of the time I didn't notice this in Heat, but every once in awhile I hear Michael Mann talking instead of the character on screen. It's hard to criticize Mann too much for his scripting, though, because the rest of the film looks and feels so great. It's one of those movies that had me questioning who is good and who is bad and, if the criminals are always bad, what does that say about me when I root for them. If you haven't seen Heat, then I'd highly recommend it. This is the kind of film I will want to see again, and dig into more in the future.
½ September 18, 2016
A compelling crime drama with two amazing performances from the lead actors. I'm surprised this one doesn't come up in conversation as much as other De Niro and Pacino classics.
September 16, 2016
one of the best films ever. Period
½ September 16, 2016
best gun battle ever
September 8, 2016
Gripping with a great soundtrack and visual mastery
½ September 6, 2016
Sooooo loooong, but still pretty good. The DeNiro/Pacino relationship was the best part and the rest felt like it was dragging on and on.
August 28, 2016
One of the best all around movies ever.
August 19, 2016
Such a classic film. Easily one of the heist movies ever made.
August 15, 2016
This is not merely the finest crime film of all time; it still remains the best movie I have ever seen.
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