Everyone experiences movies in a different way. For some it’s just a great way to spent some time, and then move on. For others it’s a kind of escapism, a way to just leave the real world behind and forget all your troubles, at least for a few hours or so. I tend to fall into the latter category. Movies have been a big part of my life ever since I was a kid. While I have a lot of hobbies (some would say way to many hobbies) as most of you know, movies are pretty much my first love. My range of films that I watch is very broad, and I can enjoy all kinds of different genres. I guess everyone probably has their own top three movies. And yes, no suprise there, I also have such a list. The films that have taken those three spots, have left me in awe ever since I first watched them. They made me breathless, and kept spinning around in my head for weeks on end after I first saw them. To me they are perfect and flawless films, the best cinematic experience one can have, and absolute masterpieces. I have talked intensively about my number 2 film, Aliens. Today it’s time to talk about my number 3 film. It was on my 19th birthday where I had to make a choice between two films to go see in the theatre, and they couldn’t be more different from each other. One was Jumanji, the other was Heat. I made my choice, and obviously seeing the title of this post, you don’t have to guess which movie I eventually ended up choosing.
Heat is the ultimate cops and robbers movie. But to just classify it as that is a grave injustice. Because there is so much more to this film than that. LAPD Major Crimes Lieutenant Vincent Hannah is a cop that lives and breathes for the chase on criminals. It’s pretty much the only thing he knows, and because of that his personal life is a disaster zone. Two failed mariages and a third that is also rapidly going downhill pretty much define his character. However he is good at his job, and he will need to be because he is about to meet more than his match.Vincent has been called to the scene of a brutal robbery of an armored car. It has left three guards dead, and no clues yet as to who the criminals were or where they disappeared off to. The crew responsible was led by Neil McCauley an expert robber, and one with his own moral code. It’s simple but effective: have nothing in your life that you can’t walk away from when you spot the heat around the corner. But Neil has his own share of problems. The robbery that just went down ended up in unnecessary bloodshed because of a rotten apple that just joined in with his regular crew, a man called Waingro. Just when he is about to punish him for it, which means ending his life, Waingro manages to escape that particular fate. This sets into motion a chain of events that will eventually bring Vincent and Neil face to face. Who will come out on top though?
There are so many things that I love about this film that it’s hard to decide what exactly I want to put into this review. One of the most important things though are it’s characters. Every single one of them, no matter how small their part, has it’s own background story and their own flaws. Al Pacino, one of the alltime greats when it comes down to acting, plays the role of the determined cop Vincent Hannah. It’s one of the best roles of his career, and Vincent is just such a great character. Not only does he have an amazing passion for catching the bad guys, he also has a heart. There is a scene where he ends up having to comfort the mother of young girl who has just been brutally murdered that gets me every time. It’s such an amazingly powerful moment, and the film is full of these kind of little gems. His nemesis, portrayed by the legendary Robert DeNiro, is a criminal that crazily enough you end up not wanting to get caught. De Niro plays this role to perfection, and with Neil creates a character that you can’t help but feel sympathy for. And that’s another thing to love about this film: the respect both men have for each other. Even though they are on opposite sides of the law, both of them end up admiring each other, which culminates in a classic moment where the two of them have a cup of coffee in a diner. This simple but effective scene displays both actors at the top of their game, and has become a part of movie history.
But there are so many other great parts in this film. A young Natalie Portman who plays Vincent’s stephdaughter, is such a tragic and hearbreaking figure in this movie. Even at that very young age, her level of acting is astounding, and even though her part is relatively small it’s a very memorable one. And then there is Val Kilmer, playing Chris a member of Neil’s crew, who brings a fire to his role that you just have to see. I can’t put into words how good his drive is for this part. Something that you will see most notably during one of the movies biggest highlights: the shoot out. Without going too heavily into spoiler territory, there is a bank robbery that goes totally wrong and ends up in a firefight between Los Angeles’ finest, and the criminals. The first time I saw this scene in the theatre I was, pun intended, blown away by it. My theatre seat shook because of the deafening sound effects, and to date it’s the best firefight scene I have ever seen in a film. And that’s saying something. Heat is a film that clocks in at almost three hours. But it never once becomes dull. The pacing is perfect, and action sequences are alternated with scenes that focus on the human elements of both the good and bad guys. Which is one of the main reasons as to why this film is so amazingly good. The time it takes to create a depth to all of the characters, so you can relate to them.
One thing people might not realise is the fact that Heat is a remake of La Takedown, a film made by the same director Michael Mann. Fellow blogger, and all around good guy Pete, tells me it’s the superior film. I can’t judge on that as I have never seen it before. It’s also something I have trouble accepting because I have so much love for this movie. If you want to see a review for that particular film, head on over to Pete’s blog by pressing here. (And while you are at it, go and follow him because he really is such an amazing blogger, and one of the kindest persons you are ever likely to meet). As much as I have faith in Pete’s words, I don’t think I’m going to ever see the original film because I just don’t want to tarnish the memories I have of this one. Yes, I know that sounds silly but really I can’t help that. Heat is a film that I see every two or three years. Even though I know the movie by heart now it still manages to put me under it’s spell every time I see it. If you are not yet convinced by my words, I urge you to just go ahead and see it for yourself. It’s a picture that is tense, heartbreaking, actionpacked and just full of scenes that every fan of movies should have seen at least once. It also shows Pacino and DeNiro at points in their respective careers where they displayed how incredible these actors were in those times.
I give Heat a 10 out of 10 score.