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When Al Pacino and Robert De Niro squarer off, HEAT sizzles. A tale of a brilliant L.A. cop (Pacino) following the trail from a deadly armed robbery to a crew headed by an equally brilliant master thief (De Niro). Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd and Natalie Portman co-star.
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It's difficult to hold the interest of an audience for almost three hours, especially in an age where people can't go five minutes without checking their text messages or tweeting about what's happening in a movie. Heat was made in 1995 when it was much easier to forget the outside world for three hours, and that's part of its strength.
The most obvious thing to mention is that Al Pacino and Robert De Niro appear on screen together for the first time, and it's the first time they two have appeared in the same film since The Godfather: Part II. Both actors are close to their best and their two meetings are memorable.
Lt. Vincent Hanna (Pacino) works for the LAPD. His job is his passion and he places it above personal relationships. He's on his third marriage and that is failing because he only gives his wife a fraction of his attention if he's home at all. Neil McCauley (De Niro) also has a passion, but he's on the wrong side of the law. He heads a group of thieves who are professional and extremely effective. Unlike Hanna, McCauley doesn't want any personal ties preventing him from being the best he can be.
McCauley has a favorite quote:
"Have no attachments. Allow nothing to be in your life that you cannot walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."
The movie shows us how effective McCauley's crew is when they rob an armored truck early in the movie. One of the crew, Waingro (Kevin Gage), is a loose cannon. His behavior leads to three unnecessary deaths so McCauley decides to kill him. Unfortunately, a passing patrol car distracts McCauley and allows Waingro to escape. He's a constant source of trouble for the remainder of the story.Read more ›
The film's mood is set from the very first camera shots, following Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) from a subway station to a hospital, to drive off with an ambulance he'll be using in his crew's next score. While we don't hear him speak a single word, his movements alone are unquestionably those of a leader; a man in absolute control of every situation. Like many of "Heat"'s crucial scenes (including the two lead characters' sole face-to-face encounters in a coffee shop and during the grand finale), the opening shots are set at night; and the hard contrast between almost black darkness and brightly shining neon lights thus established from the start is soon revealed as a hallmark of the movie's cinematography. One of the next shots shows McCauley's adversary-to-be, homicide Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) making love to his wife (Diane Venora). But afterwards there is no coziness; no conversation and no joint breakfast. Their relationship is disintegrating and, although fully aware that his obsession with his job is turning his life into a "disaster zone," it is ultimately Vincent who sacrifices it to that very obsession.Read more ›