Heat – Review


with Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Val Kilmer
Written and directed by Michael Mann
(Warner Bros., 1995)
by Mark Phinney

In the summer slew of Oscar-winning video releases, do not underestimate the staying power of what is possibly Michael Mann’s masterpiece, Heat, which is so damn fine we decided it warranted both a film review (see issue #23) and video coverage. Heat is a masterfully crafted thriller lead by the talents of some of today’s leading actors. As I’ve said before, it is a wet dream of mine to stare at Pacino and DeNiro together in the same scene, as they are in this film’s already-classic diner scene where they make each other aware that this whole thing they have with each other is not merely a game of cat and mouse, but a search for freedom and drive to be the best while dodging almost certain demise… now that is a heavy breakfast. (Yes, the two were both on screen in The Godfather, Part II (1975), but never at the same time.) DeNiro is a master thief, the best, along with his right-hand man (Val Kilmer in a performance to die for [or with]). Pacino is either DeNiro’s muse or his archrival, with nothing but the determination to nail this guy who he knows feels every move, whether on the job or in his head. Mann’s motif of loneliness-as-the-drive-to-succeed is a theme most of us can relate to, with DeNiro always ready to drop it all when the heat is around the corner. DeNiro is the solitary man surrounded by a crew that knows him only by surface actions, while it’s his pursuer who really delves into the thief’s psyche (and vice-versa). Heat is the kind of film that comes along only once in a great while, combining a great director’s flair with his actors’ wits in what seems to be an action flick but is actually Zen material, as are the ghosts that roam through man’s passions.