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517 out of 621 people found the following review useful:

The best character film of all time.

10/10
Author: Irvine from Arlington, TX.
23 June 2000

Sound like a bold statement? Devotees of classic cops and robbers flicks of old will no doubt take exception, but I believe that Michael Mann achieved some measure of perfection with Heat. To break this three-hour gem of a film down to its core, this is a film about men - strong men - and the supporting role that he women of the film have on them for better or worse. Take Pacino as good cop Vincent Hanna: one of the most intense characterizations of the tragic hero that I have ever witnessed, as he laments the demise of his third marriage to a pill-junkie wife. A fact which he discusses with his archnemesis (De Niro) in what history will regard as one of the most frenetic scenes in the history of film. The dialogue in this scene (at the very end of the first tape, if you own the VHS version) sets up the last half of the film beautifully, as our two rivals come to the joint realization that they have no hand in choosing the paths that will lead them to their ultimate confrontation: their very natures so define their respective actions that any attempt to do otherwise would simply be a waste of time. While I have heard others (who I am ashamed at times to call close friends) say that Heat drags in places, I will concede that there are moments in the film that require more than the cursory attention that they give to the movie they happen to be watching at any given time (I'm sorry not every director is Jerry Bruckheimer), there are poignant developments of character in Heat that many would casually disregard. I am thinking of the interaction between the ex-con who finds conditional employment in a diner with an opportunistic scum of a boss, and whose girlfriend is so proud of him for swallowing his pride and not simply giving the sonofabitch a good pummeling. But there is a catharsis that I felt for that same ex-con when De Niro's character presents him with the opportunity to take just one more score, for old time's sake. Who doesn't feel for this guy - this minor character in a film with big-time heavyweights who gets to shine for a few brief moments. That's what Heat is really: a series of brief moments, some touching, others traumatic, and still others incredibly horrifying in the feelings that they inspire in the romantic who, like me sees not black or white portrayals of protagonist and villain, but a montage of grays that combine to create a vivid spectrum of film characterization that could not be found in hundreds of films combined. One of my five favorite films of all time, Heat is a cinematic banquet of intense imagery and pulse-pounding action. Come hungry.

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368 out of 435 people found the following review useful:

Masterful on all counts

10/10
Author: LeightWinst from Aberdare, Wales
30 November 2004

For some reason I cannot stop thinking about this film lately.

You know that feeling of having seen it about 3 or 4 times in the last 12 months is not enough? That's what I feel at the moment.

I rate it as Mann's best. It's his most kinetic,vibrant(for a film mostly shot in steely blue),agonising,stirring,brash,violent and brilliance in such a simple story.

What games did you play as a young kid? Cops and robbers.Good guy.Bad guy.

We all know De Niro and Pacino could have been either main part,but can you imagine it any other way round. Pacino doing ice cool calm? De Niro the manic outbursts,arms flailing? It wouldn't work. We know these men now.We know neither will stop at what they do.And yet there is no way either would stop the other.Unless they had too. Which leads us too the characters. All of them.

This is an extended family where you feel you know all of them without knowing anything at all. The cops are similar to the robbers and vice-versa. Perhaps Mann is telling us were all the same.Except in what we do.Every speaking part holds substance in this movie, and the support cast is astonishing when you actually read the caliber of who appeared in this film.Tom Sizmore, Val Kilmer,Ashley Judd,Ted Levine,Wes Studi,Hank Azaria,William Fitchner,Henry Rollins,Dennis Haysbert,Tom Noonan. And Natalie Portman, for chrissake! Try getting that cast again.

A real 10/10 film. And that Moby song at the end(God moving over the face of waters) gets me every time.

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349 out of 407 people found the following review useful:

Heat is truly epic, absolutely breathtaking

10/10
Author: (jamie@sport8.freeserve.co.uk) from kings lynn, england
17 February 2000

One of the most amazing things about Heat is the scale of the film; it is nearly three hours long and packed to bursting with mind-blowing visuals. It seems one of Michael Mann's main priorities was to make a film with a dreamlike feel to it, to portray LA as a dusty oil-painting on which complex characters could play out their lives. One of the main themes is the similarity of the career criminal and the street-wise cop. It is fascinating to find yourself really feeling for DeNiro's tragic bank-robber, a man of philosophical merit who realises he's stuck in a life of crime he doesn't want to lead. Pacino's cop is less easy to sympathise with, but he too leads an in-escapable life of guns and crime. What really stands out is the climax. On the whole, Heat has to be the best cops n' robbers film ever made, indeed, one of the best films. An epic, wonderful, sad, adrenaline-fuelled exercise in scale and grandeur.

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273 out of 321 people found the following review useful:

Mann's crime drama delivers

Author: mkrusc from Los Angeles, CA
19 January 2001

'Heat,' a film of epic proportions on a common placed scale, provides all the essentials of a great crime drama and then some. With a fascinating storyline, involving characters, and Mann's sometimes poetic, sometimes gritty directing, 'Heat' is arguably one of the best crime dramas.

Perhaps the most unique feature of this movie is its manifold storyline, which focuses primarily on the main characters: Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley. Because of this complex storyline, it almost seems as if one is watching two movies, with one about each of the two characters. While following Hanna's personal life, the movie shows how it is about more than just a cop in pursuit of a criminal. Hanna's marriage is deteriorating, his step daughter is falling apart, and, as wife Justine says, he lives his life more among the "remnants of dead people." A man of two other failed marriages, Hanna's story is that of the strain of trying to fulfill both his professional and personal, where, every time, the professional wins out. Neil McCauley's story is that of a man who used to know his role: his job. Everything in his life revolved around making the next score (whether it be large or small). His story chronicles his relationships with the other men in his crew, and his relationship with Eady, his girlfriend who does not know all she should about him. The tensions build as Mann shows the two opposing strategies of each man as their paths (and thus their stories) draw closer together. When the two storylines do meet (at different points in the movie), the result is--for lack of a better word--epic. To say that these two major storylines are the only strong ones of the movie would do injustice to the many others (following Chris and his wife, for example); but to say that they are the driving force of the movie, to say that they are responsible for transforming a typical cops-and-robbers story is the best explanation.

In addition, the characters in this movie undoubtedly make it so successful. This cast comes as close as possible to being ensemble with two such huge main characters. And the cast is one of the best, at that. DeNiro. Little more needs to be said. Ever the master, his character, McCauley, can be on the one hand a ruthless robber and cold-hearted killer, on the other a warm friend and tender lover. And, despite his life of crime, McCauley's human side shows through. He will not kill unless he must, as seen through his anger at Waingro and bank heist. His warmer side shows through his relationships with his friends and girlfriend Eady. Pacino. Equally without need of praise. As always, he delivers an intense performance, here as Hanna, a workaholic obsessed with catching his man, while also fighting a losing battle to save his personal relationships. He may seem just the harsh cop, but he cares about every man under his command, about his stepdaughter, and, yes, even about McCauley. Through Hanna, Pacino shows just how torn such a man can be. Hanna demonstrates both coldness and compassion, both anger and sensitivity. Additionally strong is Val Kilmer, as Chris Shiherlis; with a raging temper, undying devotion, and a fierce will to persevere. Kilmer does an excellent job with the character of a flawed individual, whose flaws prevent him from lasting contentment, but against which flaws he continually strives. Ashley Judd is an unforgettable Charlene Shiherlis, who, despite a smaller roll, makes a lasting impression on the film. Tom Sizemore, as the implacable Michael Cheritto, and Jon Voight, as a gruff Nate, are both likeable (because of their human sides) and despicable (because of their professions). Each does excellent work. And equally fine are Diane Venora, as Justine, and Natalie Portman, as Justine's daughter Lauren. As Venora is strong opposite Pacino, so Amy Brenneman, Eady, is an equally strong opposite of DeNiro. In a cast so full of big names, it is so rewarding to see everyone come together to make the characters each have their own place in the film.

And Michael Mann's direction of the movie keeps the film moving while providing a tremendous combination of action and drama. He moves from scene to scene quickly and effortlessly. He also switches between the many storylines logically and fluidly, none of the story being lost. Each scene leaves its own, unmistakable impression, and each scene of each storyline builds upon the previous. Action scenes are handles crisply but grittily. The gunshots are loud, the blood is abundant, but Mann wisely does not linger on the horror of the moment. He paints a realistic picture, but keeps to the topic. The action never becomes more important than the drama. Mann is also responsible for what is perhaps the greatest robbery scene ever. Here, his more gritty sense of style is what makes this scene so believable. And, despite the enormous cast, Mann was still able to keep his agenda clear, and orchestrate so much talent into a coherent movie. Michael Mann deserves credit for both his vision and ability to express it.

Because of these and other well done aspects, 'Heat' is one of the most powerful crime dramas ever made.

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201 out of 267 people found the following review useful:

Heat is a masterpiece

10/10
Author: Mike Garber (stickman@u2.org) from Waynesboro, Virginia
3 January 2000

In this exciting thrill ride, good and evil battle it out. But not in the usual comic-book style of most films today. "Heat" carries with it the moral values so many of us take for granted. Although much in the film is morally ambiguous, one may find that even when all your life you've lived on the other side of the law, you can still settle down and have a heart-to-heart. When I first saw this movie I was sure it would be another violent crime movie that I would never want to see again. I have since seen it 4 times and have a copy of my own. The thrilling sequences and brilliant camera-work have you glued to the screen. The exceptional cast of characters has you wondering "who could be so lucky to work with them?". From the opening scene to the thrilling final scenes and everything in between (including the climax) "Heat" grabs you and pulls you in. This is a true film masterpiece.

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154 out of 194 people found the following review useful:

One Of The Best Crime Films Ever

10/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
15 February 2006

I really believe this is one the great crime movies of all time. It has some drawbacks that wouldn't make me recommend this for family viewing - tons of f- words by Al Pacino and a few bloody scenes, but as far as a fascinating crime story: wow!

This movie made modern-day history because it was the first time two of the great actors of this generation - Pacino and Robert De Niro - finally acted together in the same film. Those two didn't disappoint, either. They were great to watch and one of the huge highlights of the film, to me, was when they faced each other in a simple conversation over a cup of coffee. That conversation has always fascinated me, no matter how many times I've heard it. It was such a "landmark" scene that It's even the subject of a short documentary on the special-edition DVD.

As with the conversation scene, the shootout segment in the streets of Los Angeles still astounds me no matter how many times I see it. The other action scenes are intense and memorable, too, and the cast in here is deep. This isn't just Pacino and De Niro. It's Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Jon Voight, Diana Venora, Natlie Portman, Tom Sizemore, Amy Brenamann, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Mykelti Williamson, on and on.

Put that fabulous cast under Michael Mann, one of the best directors in business, add a great soundtrack and interesting camera-work and you have a great film. At three hours long, it never bores one and at same time, doesn't overdo the action, either. I read one critic criticize this film because of the time taken to examine the personal lives of the main characters, but you can't have three hours of nothing but action. The only scene I felt went on a bit too long was the ending chase at the airport, but that's nitpicking considering the film as a whole.

This is just one of those movies where a great cast and director live up to their billing.

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170 out of 226 people found the following review useful:

Pacino and De Niro together... simply great !

10/10
Author: Peres-2 from Haifa, Israel
13 January 1999

Most of the comments I've read here agree that this is a great movie. I have the same opinion. The coffee shop scene tells everything about this film: 10/10. The human side of the characters is perfectly explored, especially concerning De Niro's character (Neil). His personal conflicts are as strong as his determination and skills as a gangster. This is the magic of this film and only two fantastic actors like Pacino and De Niro could represent it so totally. Congratulations to Val Kilmer that shined and performed exceptionally well under the huge shadow of Pacino and De Niro. A must see !

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179 out of 253 people found the following review useful:

One of the best films of the 90's

10/10
Author: eddieknocker from United Kingdom
17 January 2005

I am assuming I am commenting on this film for those who have not seen this film and for those people I pity you. Its a crime thriller. Won't describe the story as its not particularly original and not the best thing about this film. You've got Pacino and Deniro on screen in a film for the first and possibly last time which should be recommendation enough. You've also got director Michael Mann at the top of his game. An awesome supporting cast firing on all cylinders. Arguably the best "shoot-out" in any film - ever. What more do you want???

It's a long film but there is not one wasted scene in it. Even the incidental story lines - for example, the recently paroled ex-cell mate of Deniro whose first job is in a "grill" working for a nasty, exploitative boss and then ends-up as a stand-in getaway driver for Deniros crew. It just adds weight to the whole film. All the domestic dramas of the good-guys and the bad-guys that you wouldn't get in the typical cops and robbers film are shown in loving detail and nothing is rushed. Just makes it a more satisfying and involving film.

Mann who started his career on Miami Vice almost seems to be taking a trip back to the eighties with the soundtrack and styling of the film - almost but not quite.

If you still don't want to see the film after this then what the hell's wrong with you?! Sit back and enjoy. Also - no. 247 in the top 250?? Whats up with that???

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162 out of 220 people found the following review useful:

One of the best Cops and Robbers movies ever.

10/10
Author: brendan_sutch from Washington, DC
24 May 2000

Heat is a masterful cops and robbers tale that shows both sides of the law in exquisite detail. Strong performances by Pacino and DeNiro (the scene of them sitting across the table from each other is possibly 5 of the most memorable minutes in film history). Excellent cinematography and perhaps the best gunfight (if not, one of the most intense) since Hard Boiled. More than worth the 3 or so hours.

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134 out of 165 people found the following review useful:

A stylish masterwork worthy of the talent involved

Author: emsaldanha from California
27 February 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am always wary of films boasting of star-studded casts and big-name, behind-the-camera talent. So, I approached "Heat" with some trepidation...of course, I'm a big fan of DeNiro and Pacino (even as he has declined into one-note, manic performances in the 90's) and I feel that Michael Mann is one of the most underrated directors in Tinseltown (one need only view "Manhunter" to view his genius in pacing a crime thriller). Given the incredible supporting cast, this production set high standards for itself. I must report that it did not disappoint. Given that the running time is almost three hours and Mann has the task of balancing two significant storylines (DeNiro's and Pacino's), the film is a stunningly linear examination of life on both sides of the law. The viewer sees sacrifices made and relationships lost in both arenas without the usual emotional push to root for one side against the other. The visceral thrill of watching Pacino and DeNiro emote together was one of the film's marketing points; though they have two brief scenes together, it is a unique thrill to see these two modern icons of cinema play off one another. While it is clear that either of these two has the star power to carry a film singlehandedly, the experience of watching the cop and robber suffer through their diametrically opposed, yet parallel lives is fascinating. I'm sure that fans of the films will remember, in the years to come, the diner scene between the two as fondly as some hold the pairing of Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea in "Ride The High Country".

Those who criticized the film at the time of its release found particular fault with the climax. They cynically deemed the clasping of hands between the two opponents as a overly sentimental gesture. While it is sentimental, the scene is a neat capsulation of their relationship, however unexplored, throughout the film. They have acted as the hunter and his prey; yet, they finally realize that they are kindred spirits - dedicated men who put their chosen profession above all else in their lives. They are aware of the opportunities for "normalcy" they have sacrificed for their obsessions (I love DeNiro's line in the diner on what's normal) and hold each other in high regard because they share the same pain and isolation. I think "Heat" has a beautiful ending, enhanced by Moby's elegiac "God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters"

I don't put much stock in the Academy Awards in terms of evaluating a film's worth, but it was a true disgrace that "Braveheart" was chosen Best Picture in 1995. "Heat" was not even nominated! Hopefully, the Academy voters will right this error with Mann's equally powerful "Insider" at this year's ceremonies.

Don't be scared off by "Heat"'s running time or by criticism that its too indulgent in its character studies. It is precisely the film's attention to developing its characters that sets it apart from every other by-the-numbers Hollywood crime film of this era and makes "Heat" a classic.

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