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Heat-Clash of the Titans

August 21, 2007

What do you get when you take two actors, who specialize in scene stealing and scenery chewing, both of them equally volatile, both of them experts at playing emotionally intense characters, and ask them to face off on screen?

Think John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg dueling on Wimbledon, Ayrton Senna and Michael Proust burning up the Formula 1 tracks or Mohd Ali vs Joe Frazier in the boxing ring. And then imagine Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in the same frame together. Or much better Travis Bickle taking on Tony “Scarface” Montana. When you have two great talents facing off each other, and a director like Michael Mann( who already had an impressive resume with Last of the Mohicans and Manhunter under his belt), the expectations would be sky high. Could this movie live up to it’s hype.

Heat sees De Niro as Neil Mc Cauley, an expert thief, and Pacino, as Vincent Hanna, a top LAPD cop, but whose personal life is a total mess. McCauley’s principle is simple “Do not allow anything into your life which you cannot walk out on in thirty seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner”. His gang is made up of Chris Shiherlis( Val Kilmer) and Michael Cheritto( Tom Sizemore), The movie begins with a theft of 1.6 million USD worth US bearer bonds from an armored car. And in the ensuing fracas, the 3 guards are shot dead. Nate( Jon Voight) who often buys most of the stolen property of Mc Cauley, suggests that he sell back the bonds to their original owner Roger Van Zant for a handsome profit. However Van Zant double crosses them, and Mc Cauley escapes, swearing revenge.

LAPD officer Lt.Vincent Hanna one of the top detectives and a man who has a reputation for solving the toughest cases is assigned Mc Cauley’s case. Hanna’s devotion to his work, however has ensured, that his personal life is a total mess. McCauley in the meanwhile, is busy planning his next major heist, a 12 million USD bank robbery. Watch the rest of the movie to enjoy the cat and mouse game played between both the characters.

Though a straightforward cops and robbers tale, Heat, works due to the exploration of personal relationships. Though on the opposite sides of the law, both Hanna and McCauley, have things in common. Both are the best in their field, and both lead lonely lives. McCauley believes in being a loner, but shares a romantic relationship with Eady( Amy Brennerman), a graphic designer. Hanna’s personal life is even worse, his 3rd marriage to Justine( Diane Venora) is on the rocks, and he has a troubled relationship with his step daughter Laura( Natalie Portman), whom he loves dearly. Shiherlis wife Charlene( Ashley Judd) is slowly being estranged from him due to his gambling addiction, and to make matters worse she is cheating on him with Marciano( Hank Azaria).

One of the best scenes in the movie is when the Pacino and De Niro, do actually meet in an LA restaurant. Where each talk about their personal lives, and how they are gonna be after each other. Two men who are not willing to give a quarter, and this scene is a classic.
Vincent Hanna: You know, we are sitting here, you and I, like a couple of regular fellas. You do what you do, and I do what I gotta do. And now that we’ve been face to face, if I’m there and I gotta put you away, I won’t like it. But I tell you, if it’s between you and some poor bastard whose wife you’re gonna turn into a widow, brother, you are going down.

Neil McCauley: There is a flip side to that coin. What if you do got me boxed in and I gotta put you down? Cause no matter what, you will not get in my way. We’ve been face to face, yeah. But I will not hesitate. Not for a second.

Or this about their personal life

Vincent Hanna: My life’s a disaster zone. I got a stepdaughter so f**d up because her real father’s this large-type asshole. I got a wife, we’re passing each other on the down-slope of a marriage – my third – because I spend all my time chasing guys like you around the block. That’s my life.

Neil McCauley: A guy told me one time, “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.” Now, if you’re on me and you gotta move when I move, how do you expect to keep a… a marriage.

Heat is worth a watch just for this scene alone. And for action movie buffs, you have some great scenes too, the first attempt on the armored car, the showdown between the cops and the robbers after the bank robbery and of course the final showdown between Hanna and McCauley at the airport. The movie has everything which an action movie buff demands, betrayal, double crossing, cat and mouse games, crooks, cops.

And of course De Niro and Pacino. Both the actors are in tremendous form here. De Niro, is outstanding as the loner crook, with a street smart attitude, while Pacino, is first rate as the washed out cop. But then I guess having played similar roles in Serpico, Sea of Love, this would be a cakewalk for him. Among the supporting cast, Val Kilmer does a good job, but he gets overshadowed in the Pacino-De Niro cross fire, Jon Voight, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Tom Sizemore in supporting roles are competent. So my recommendation, go for this movie, and don’t miss

  1. It's amazing the sort of cast Michael Mann was able to assemble for Heat. It's as if a whole bunch of actors looked at the two guys headlining the cast and said, "I gotta be in this movie, I don't care who I play."Incidentally, Al Pacino shot his maiden directorial venture Looking for Richard while he was making this one. Quite an amazing movie, that – do see it if you haven't already.

  2. Consider the supporting cast Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, whew thats an A list supporting act.Havent seen Looking 4 Richard, but did see Pacino's Sea of Love, and that was a good movie too.

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