Re-Watching the Classics: Heat


Heat is 20 years old now!  That is hard to believe, I didn’t know if I should call it a classic, but after 20 years I think we are safe.  This is a Neo-Noir epic with one of the best casts in a noir film ever.

Michael Mann writes and directs, Mann is a legend of neo-noir film making.  He got his start in some great television shows and went on to make some amazing movies.  This one may be his best.

Lets start with the cast, this is the first time we see two of the greatest actors of our time on the screen at the same time with each other: Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro.  There seen together was filmed at a restaurant in Los Angles, one where you can actually sit and have a meal at the same table even today.  They did appear in another film before this, a little film called Godfather II, but were never on screen together.


This is almost like two films in one, we are rooting for our brilliant thief and hoping he gets away and lives happily ever after.  We are also rooting for our hard nosed cop that has to find the violent criminals before they get away clean.  It’s a cat and mouse game that we can not pick a side on.  The trip is worth it.

Though this is enough to make any movie big, no need to have anyone else in the cast, but we do.  A lot of my favorite crime actors are in this film and I’m just going to list them here:

Val Kilmer plays a gambling addict that earns his money stealing.

Ashley Judd plays his wife and our only real femme fatale.

Jon Voight plays the ring leader of the bad guys, interesting note: his character is based on Edward Bunker, a career criminal that has appeared in many crime films and has written many noir books himself.  I plan on reading and reviewing some of his books on the website later.

A young Natalie Portman is in here as the angry step daughter, she already showed some amazing talent in this small role.

We also have an all star supporting cast of crime film regulars:  Tom Sizemore, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi,Ted Levine, Dennis Haysbert,  William Fichtner, Kevin Gage, Hank Azaria, Danny Trejo, Henry Rollins, and Jeremy Piven.

This movie actually is based on a real life cop and his pursuit of a career thief.  The real story is about Chuck Adamson, a real life cop in Chicago who meet in a non violent situation with the real Neil McCauley and chased him for part of his career.  Adamson also helped write on some of Mann’s T.V. shows and is also the source for one of Mann’s other movies, Thief.

At almost 3 hours long, this is a long film, but worth it.