Michael Mann's crime epic is everything you'd expect, but nothing like you'd imagine. Heat is magnificent, powerful and for the last decade my unquestionably favourite film. Here's 5 reasons why it's a FIVE STAR FILM.
- The Conversation
The conversation in Heat is one of the most perfectly executed and eloquently intertextual moments in the history of American Cinema. The icons of new Hollywood and the Prince's of the kingdom that Brando built had aptly shared celluloid only once before in the insta-classic The Godfather Part II. Michael Mann's mid film climax faces the opposite sides of the coin in Al Pacino's Vincent Hannah and Robert DeNiro's Neal McCauley - and they have a 'getting to know you' conversation that speaks volumes about who they are. The act/react session is a performance lesson. Hannah's unpredictable - imposing on Neal's space, changing cadence, using punctuative gestures; while Neal's icy stares, poker face, and almost blaze attitude meld so perfectly that there's not a more significant and iconic two-shot conversation that I've ever seen.
- Alex Colville's painting 'Pacific' inspiration realised
Michael Mann was so moved by how 'Pacific' captured the essence of Neil McCauley that he appropriated the composition of 'Pacific' and in Heat. There's a visual poetry and terrific and strange sensory experience when you immerse yourself into a living painting and deconstruct the motivations that Mann projects onto McCauley via Colville's nameless protagonist.
- The Street Skirmish
After hours of build up and the lure of the career ending score we get treated to the spectacular action bonanza of the grittily real gun battle between the heavily armed military trained crew and unsuspecting and unprepared police. The sound of the gun shots reverberating on glass and metal structures and bouncing off of tarmac demonstrates some of the best sound design of all time. For Val Kilmer's snap reload of his assault rifle alone this scene is incredible.
- The Scope
Heat is a Crime Opus. It's an L.A Story where Mann sets the film in so many un-L.A locales. It's a practical, local, industrial sprawl - opportune for escape and concealment. Mann lets you get to know these obsessed professionals on either side of the law and registers how their professional obsession impacts their lives.
- "I told you I was never goin' back" & God moving over the Face of Waters by Moby
There are two scenes that Pacino and Deniro share the screen and the final crescendo at the L.A airport (which incidentally would be impossible in a post 9/11 world) is magnificent. There's an innate understanding between these men despite their collision course - and the tenderness with which that last scene plays out is spine-tinglingly good. And Moby's beautiful track amplifies the emotional affect of the scene.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman
Blake Howard is a writer, a podcaster, the editor-in-chief & co-founder of Australian film blog Graffiti With Punctuation. Beginning his criticism APPRENTICESHIP as co-host of That Movie Show 2UE, Blake is now a member of the prestigious Online Film Critic Society, sways the Tomato Meter with Rotten Tomatoes approved reviews. See his articulated words and shrieks (mostly) here at Graffitiwithpunctuation.com and with DarkHorizons.com & 2SER Sydney weekly on Gaggle of Geeks.