Article: ‘Heat’ at 20: Michael Mann on Making a Crime-Drama Classic



Here is a great write up on Heat by Jennifer Wood over at Rolling Stone. This is a look at how the film was made and how it became a classic.

Everything Noir also looked at Heat for its 20 year anniversary here:


Re-Watching: Spartan

David Mamet writes and directs Spartan, a neo noir from 2004. I have not seen this movie since it came out on DVD 11 years ago. I decided to revisit it after watching Mamet’s Homicide(which I reviewed earlier on this site and loved!) This is not your typical noir story. The story revolves around Scott, a military man played by Val Kilmer. He is a top-notch soldier with a high level skill set.

The story starts with the Presidents daughter played by Kristen Bell, being kidnapped. The trail soon leads to a white slavery ring, taking girls from America to the middle east. Scott and the team are hot on the trail when the story breaks of the first daughter being found dead alongside her college professor in a boating accident. Getting to this point has a lot of classic undercover and spy plot lines and is entertaining. The really good noir plot lines start after Scott gets a visit from a fellow soldier played by Derek Luke. He feels that the President’s daughter isn’t really dead. This theory gets Scott thinking and the two start looking back at some of the clues. When his partner is shoot dead by a sniper the plot really thickens and gets interesting.

We have a lot of great appearances in this film, like Mamet regular William H. Macy as well as Ed O’Neill and Clark Gregg. Tia Texada is another stand out as a female soldier.

Mamet does it again with this mix of noir and international intrigue. It is well written and filmed by one of the best. Though this may not be Mamet’s best work it is certainly worth a look. I can’t help seeing the similarities in plot with mega hit Taken that came out 4 years later. The tone and pacing of the two films are very different, but would make an interesting double feature to watch on a lazy afternoon.

Favorite Tidbit: Alexandra Kerry makes a small appearance as a bartender in this film. Her father John Kerry was running for President at the time this film was released. An interesting parallel to the film about a President running for re-election and his daughter.

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.