Plot: What’s it about?
“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.”
Michael Mann’s “Heat” represents just about everything that is right in filmmaking. A great cast, an epic story and a character-driven plot with people we actually care about. While “Heat” is probably most famous for pitting Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro together in a scene for the first time (they both starred in “The Godfather Part II” though never actually shared a scene for obvious reasons), I feel this movie will get better with time. First of all would be the cast – Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Dennis Haysbert, Tom Sizemore, Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd and Amy Brenneman are just a few of the big names that make this movie work. But large casts aren’t everything if there isn’t a story present. “Heat”, however, combines layer upon layer of intriguing dialogue and superb acting to make the film work on so many levels. Michael Mann, the reclusive director, has directed several modern classics including the recent “Collateral”, “The Last of the Mohicans”, “The Insider” and “Manhunter” to name just a few. This aside, “Heat” has more to it than meets the eye and it’s no wonder it takes all of three hours to tell this story…
Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) is a master thief. He has the discipline to know when to walk away from a job should there be a chance he’s compromised. His apathetic nature has allowed him to be very successful at what he does, even though Detective Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) is closing in on him. The movie concentrates on the relationship between the two – the ultimate “cop” and “robber” – intertwined with their own personal relationships. Hanna’s marriage is ruined because of his obsession with McCauley and Neil has found a love interest in Eady (Amy Brenneman), someone who he cares for and is willing to give up his life of crime for. The essential storyline in the movie is the quest for that “one last job”. Neil and his crew are planning one last score and the cops (the “heat”) are closing in. Do they go through with it or walk away while they still have the chance?
Most likely this review has just offered only an insight into what the film is about. The great thing about this movie is that the more I watch it – the more I discover. DeNiro’s character is deeply disturbed, yet he has the discipline to maintain a relationship but is bull-headed enough to pursue personal vendettas. Pacino’s character is perhaps more troubled than the man he pursues, yet he perseveres. Those familiar with Michael Mann’s work will be right at home here and I’d go so far as to say that this is my favorite movie by Mann (followed very closely by “The Insider”). I was intrigued to find that the story was based on true events and the more than adequate featurettes and commentary are worth the price of admission. Again I say that my words can’t do this movie justice, you’ll just have to buy and discover this for yourself. Highly recommended.
Video: How does it look?
This is the first incarnation of “Heat” on Blu-ray and the 2.40:1 VC-1 HD transfer looks positively amazing.I found the image non-compromised in the least. Flesh tones are, for the most part, very muted though this is how the movie was supposed to look. Colors are a bit more defined and detail has been improved from the old standard DVD. Edge enhancement and artifacting are practically eliminated as well. On the whole, “Heat” has never looked better as evidenced by this new disc.
Audio: How does it sound?
One of the best examples of a reference-quality surround sound experience is during the shoot-out scene after the bank robbery. Those who have seen it know what I’m talking about. I think it incorporates most everything of what makes the Dolby TrueHD track so great. There are explosive bass, discrete effects in the surrounds and powerful action up front. In short – every speaker gets a workout! The majority of the movie is dialogue-driven and I was surprised by the clarity of the track. It’s hard to believe that the movie is ten years old, but the sound is a shining example of how good a track (regardless of the age of the film) can sound. This is an excellent-sounding track and one that’s represented faithfully on Blu-ray.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“Heat” came out as a special edition DVD back in early 2005 and four and a half years later, we’ve got it on Blu-ray. Supplementally, the commentary track with Mann isn’t the most engaging out there, it’s still pretty good. Consider the movie is three hours long – you talk that long! He offers up some insight as to the location, how he wanted to shoot the scenes and some stories about the actors, etc. It’s a bit dry at times but for any fan of the movie – a must listen. Three theatrical trailers are also included on the first disc. We then have five featurettes: “The Making of Heat” is broken down into three individual featrettes which can be viewed separately or all together. This is really the story of how the movie came to be, the influences for the writing and finally the casting and actual shoot. Next up is “Pacino and DeNiro: The Conversation”. This is a bit misleading as we’d expect the actors to be sitting at a table talking about their big scene. Instead it’s individual with some vintage interviews mixed in. I found it interesting, but yet a bit lacking. Lastly “Return to the Scene of the Crime” shows us as some members of the crew visit some of the industrial landmarks shown in the film. I wasn’t really too sure about the relevance, but as always – better to have than have not. “True Crime” is more of an homage to the Chicago policeman who inspired the movie of “Heat”. And then there’s a look back at the history of the screenplay and how if finally came to fruition, movie-wise. There are eleven deleted scenes offering up no commentary as to why they were cut – they seem to feel out of place. For me, there’s been en empty spot on my shelf just waiting for this film.