With Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Val Kilmer
Written and directed by Michael Mann
by Mark Phinney
I walked in into Heat thinking over-hyped studio money machine, but I, like the rest of the country, was curious about the two wunderkinds on the screen together. I walked out of Heat with the riveting feeling that I had seen one of the best movies in a long while. Michael Mann has always given us “just good enough” films. This time around it is a well-made American movie. Let’s start with the big story: DeNiro and Pacino on the screen together. Never before has this happened. True, they starred together in The Godfather II, yet shared no screen time together, and yes, in Heat they share, oh, twenty minutes together, but damn, what a great twenty minutes it is.
Heat centers around the passions and commitments of two men, the same in feeling, different in profession. Pacino is on the trail of DeNiro and his gang of thieves. Val Kilmer is touching as DeNiro’s right hand man, and a top gunman to boot. DeNiro takes a turn for the mellower side. He is a disciplined loner with one goal – to pull his last job and get out with his money and his sanity. Pacino is haunting as DeNiro’s doppelganger cop, stopping at nothing to not only put DeNiro away, but to understand him. When the two meet up, they make it clear to one another that when the thing goes down, neither one will think twice about taking each other out. The relationship the two embody is well-executed. They have a respect for each other, an understanding. They both have demons and hang-ups dealing with loneliness, love, and “the job.” DeNiro’s theory is “never attach yourself to anything or anyone you can’t drop in 30 seconds when the heat is around the corner,” which turns out to be his only mistake. When you go to see Heat, let it teach you how to accept yourself and your foibles. Heat is one of the best films of 1995.