Master criminal Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) is planning one last big heist before retiring, despite his latest operation with his group of thieves going wrong. Meanwhile, LAPD robbery-homicide detective Lt. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) is closing in on the criminal crew, becoming more and more obsessed with taking down McCauley at the expense of his private life. As the two men try to thwart the other’s plans, they discover they’re more alike than they seem, developing mutual respect for one another despite being on opposite sides of the law.
Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.
On the surface, Heat seems like a typical action crime movie, starring two legendary actors who are best known for starring in gangster-type films like Scarface and Goodfellas. And while there are a number of thrilling shootout scenes throughout, there’s also plenty of smaller, quieter moments that add more gravity to the action that happens later. Perhaps the film’s most famous scene is the restaurant conversation between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, two actors who had never shared a scene together on screen despite their similar career trajectory (and while they both starred in The Godfather: Part II, they didn’t share any screen time together because their characters appear in different time periods). Aside from the obvious star power, the scene also exemplifies the character’s motives and just how similar the two are despite their different end goals. Other small interactions between all the characters help keep the story much more immersive.
For a seemingly simple premise, Heat plays out in a more complex manner with dialogue that doesn’t come across as too cliched and characters that are more drawn out than what you’d usually find in a movie of this nature. The film also features some great cinematography, boasting some cool imagery of Los Angeles at night, and some gripping camerawork during the big heist scenes. While the movie clocks in at nearly three hours (and probably didn’t need to be quite as long as that), the pace never lets up, and Heat makes for one of the action genre’s more engrossing film experiences.
Directed by: Michael Mann
Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer