Review of 'Heat'

heat.jpg Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) heads up a professional Los Angeles criminal gang who slip up during a violent heist on a armoured car which provides key intelligence for Lt. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) to track them down. Neil and his crew are determined to complete one final, retirement, score despite Hanna being hot on their heals. What follows is a deadly game of cat and mouse as the two similar men try to take each other down.

You would think with the two biggest “wise guys” actors on the planet this would be a brutal, violent and action-filled film. You would be right on two of these, but for the last, the action is infrequent with long periods of talking and not a lot happening in between. There are is one huge action sequence at the beginning of the film where the crime gang take on the armoured car and another where they rob bank but other than that we have to live with numerous chase scenes that seem to drag on forever including a shoot-out on the streets of LA that for some reason takes out huge numbers of police cars and policemen but leaves the gang largely untouched despite both having these massive guns…It more than slightly jars. The film also explores the personal lives of the two main characters, taking us into the troubled family life of Hanna and McCauley's on-going quest for love.

A highlight from the film has to be when the two big stars talk face to face in a diner where they come to understand that they are not so different from one another, willing to stop at nothing to achieve their goal. This is superbly acted and shot. We can see the two acting heavyweights compellingly sparring, each trying their hand at unsettling the other. Other than that, we are treated to numerous talking scenes that include side stories involving their somewhat naïve, oblivious partners that never really convince. Surprisingly, despite the gratuitous violence and swearing there is little in the way of nudity and sex when compared to similar films.

There are some other fairly big names on the bill including Val Kilmer as gang member Chris Shiherlis and Jon Voight as money launderer Nate though it can be imagined that with De Niro and Pacino both on the bill many actors came knocking on the filmmaker's door. There is even a surprising turn from Natalie Portman as Hanna's troubled daughter.

The film has a great first hour but the other hour and a half REALLY drags including a particularly drawn-out finale that seems to never end. Lots of talky, talky, not so much in the way of action. There are a few surprises that keep you awake, but ultimately, not all that great despite the huge names on the bill.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-01-24

Directed by: Michael Mann

Studio: Warner Bros.

Year: 1995

Length: 170 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure