• James Rutherford

‘Heat’: An Epic Chronicle of Criminality and Law Enforcement on the Streets of Los Angeles


Movie poster for Michael Mann's film Heat starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino

Heat (1995) is a visceral and electrifying crime epic starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino as Neil McCauley and Vincent Hanna, opposing forces in a high-stakes duel ensuing over the course of a daring series of bank robberies. A veteran career criminal leading a quartet of hardened thieves, McCauley is drawn into direct confrontation with Hanna—the fervent lieutenant within the LAPD Major Crimes Unit who doggedly pursues him and his accomplices.


Operating with long-time crew members Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore) and Trejo (Danny Trejo), McCauley orchestrates an armored car holdup that nets $1.6 million in bearer bonds, but draws the attention of highly diligent lead investigator Hanna. Once a police informant connects Cheritto to the robbery, Hanna and his unit initiate full-scale surveillance on McCauley's faction—their scrutiny leading to all-out warfare on the streets of Los Angeles.


Written and directed by Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Collateral), Heat is a masterful crime saga that bypasses convention in lieu of a far more humanistic take on the individuals and families residing on both sides of the law. The film's extended ensemble helps to deliver a robust and deeply absorbing chronicle of criminality, etched out with three-dimensional characterizations, gripping plot elements and explosive action sequences. A now-legendary showcase for two of Hollywood's greatest showmen head-to-head, Heat is one of the very best films of the 1990's and remains a genuine masterpiece to this day.

 

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