Movie Review : Heat (1995)
I know this is weird. Why would anyone in their right mind review a twenty-three years classic everybody's already seen five or six times? Believe it or not, I've never actually seen Heat. It came out when I was 12 and, you know, a three hours bank heist movie didn't exactly seem like my idea of fun. It still isn't, to be honest. But Heat's good. It spawned a generation of terrible ripoffs for good reasons: it's one of the best movies of its era and bank heists have very little to do with it.
Heat is the story of police lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and elite stick-up artist Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro), who become acquainted with one another's work after an armed car robbery gone wrong. A hired henchman named Waingro (Kevin Gage) murders one of the guards and transforms the robbery into a murder case for the police. Hanna becomes obsessed with catching McCauley and McCauley becomes obsessed with 1) killing Waingro (after that slimy fuck evades a first hit) and 2) doing one last high profile job to secure his financial future.
What could... possibly go wrong?
What makes Heat different (and inherently better) than other bank heist movies is that it's basically a competition between two men. Both Hanna and McCauley have sacrificed so much to achieve excellence in their work in high stakes situations, they're both uninterested in walking away now that the stakes are at their highest. It's a pissing contest between two angry, horny, eerily similar middle-aged men. The only real difference between them is that they're on opposite sides of the law. It could've been about a mini-golf competition instead of bank heists and it would've been just as good.
This competition is best illustrated in two scenes. There's the diner meeting, where Hanna tries to dissuade McCauley to go through with the heist. What is so great about it is that there's no animosity between the characters. It's a discussion between two professionals intrigued by one another. It sets them up as being more alike than different. Afterwards, there's the famous shootout scene, which cements Hanna and McCauley's relationship. There's no going back after that which is best illustrated in Hanna brutally gunning down an accomplice of McCauley with a satisfied smirk on his face. Heat shows nuance even when it's grim and brutal, which is what separates it from all the others.
So, how was my first experience with Heat? Pretty fucking awesome, I must say. I got 100% onboard with what Michael Mann was doing 15 minutes into the movie after Waingro mysteriously slimed his way out of McCauley's murderous intents and haven't looked back aferwards. It's one of the best thrillers I've ever seen. It's worth all the accolades it got over the years and then some. It's one of these movies that should be left untouched, you know? One we should rewatch whenever needed, but that we shouldn't reboot or ripoff in any way. It's perfect the way it is.