Title: Heat: Director's Definitive Edition
HTS Overall Score:
Michael Mann is one of the undisputed kings in the crime thriller genre. Over the years, he has made some fantastic flicks that revolve around scumbags and the desire to get rich quick or die trying. Sure, he’s made some bombs like “Blackhat” and “Public Enemies” (which isn’t THAT bad), but he has provided way more hits than misses. “Last of the Mohicans”, “Collateral”, “Thief”, “The Insider”, all fantastic flicks that have given us a very in depth and detailed look at crime (well, besides “Last of the Mohicans”, that’s just a great film) and the criminals who perpetrate it. At the top of Mann’s cinematic achievements is “Heat”, the gritty thriller that was made up of pretty much anyone who WAS anyone back in the 90s. It’s a complex look at several men and their escapades in L.A., based off of an actual criminal and cop from a few decades prior.
Al Pacino is Lt. Vincent Hanna, a well-known homicide/robbery detective who is hot on the trailer of master thief, Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro), who is on a string of high end robberies netting millions and millions of dollars. Lt. Hanna is at a crossroads, wondering if he can catch the guy until a robbery goes completely sideways, ending up with a dead security guard and clue as to the identity of one of McCauley’s gang. McCauley is also at a bit of a crossroads. This armored car job was supposed to be easy, but a new hire to the close-knit crew goes off the rails and murders the security guard for no reason, jeopardizing their whole operation. Intending to kills the bumbling low life (played by Kevin Gage), McCauley and his men get interrupted and allowing their soon to be victim time to escape. A move that soon turns deadly when the escapee goes on a murdering rampage amongst the ladies of the night, attracting the attention of Lt. Hanna on not only his operation, but the one loose end that can sink them for the armored car job.
“Heat” is a wildly complex and nuanced movie. Clocking in at just a few minutes shy of 3 hours, Michal Mann deals with multiple subplots simultaneously, ranging from McCauley trying to fence the bearer bonds they stole back to the original owner (a bank guru played by William Fichtner), trying to find the escaped killer Waingro before he gets caught by the cops, Hanna dealing with his own insecurities and relationship with single mother Justine (Diana Venora) and her teenage daughter Laura (a very young Natalie Portman) and McCauley’s budding relationship with a young graphic design artist. Not to mention the loose cannons that are McCauley’s crew who want to go through with a giant bank robbery with the fuzz sniffing at their heels.
The performances by all are simply top notch, with a young Val Kilmer as McCauley’s second in command and a baby faced Danny Trejo and Tom Sizemore filling out the gang. There’s a ton, and I mean a TON, of supporting characters ranging from Tone-Loc (yes, the funky cold medina), Dennis Haysbert, Tom Noonan, Ashley Judd, Jon Voight, Hank Azaria, Ted Levine, Wes Studi, Henry Rollins and each one flows seamlessly into the complex weaving of multiple storylines. Still, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro are the main focus of the film and really take the spotlight. Both actors are at the highlight of their careers, and the intensity that they bring is electrifying. After watching the last few abominations that Robert DeNiro has let himself get talked into, it’s nice to actually see him as he WAS. An incredibly intense actor who seemingly could do no wrong. Pacino eats up the scenery like he always does and has some wonderfully hilarious 90s moments (when he’s talking about big butts to Hank Azaria has been fuel for many an online meme for many years now). He’s a madman with a badge, and can explode at a moment’s notice, but he’s also extremely brilliant and single focused, almost to a fault. He’s the showy one here, with DeNiro playing the much tighter controlled and suave character of the criminal mastermind. He almost never loses his cool, unlike his law enforcement counterpart, but has just as much a singular focus. A detriment and blessing that leads up to the incredible ending that Mann has planned from the beginning.
Rated R for violence and language
According to the information from Fox Michael Mann himself oversaw the video restoration for “Heat” and let me tell you, the results are very nice. The movie itself is clean film with minimal grain, but it has a very stylized look with not a lot of eye catching colors. The colors are clear and well saturated, but the filtering keeps the image looking ever so slightly flat and focuses in on bleached blues and light greys. Black levels are healthy enough and the grain really doesn’t spike in the darkness that much. I liked the original WB transfer of “Heat”, but this new restoration shows more fine detail and the mild smoothness that was present on the old disc is completely gone here. The film itself lends itself to softness here and there, but the overall clarity is spot on perfect to how Michael Mann envisioned it.
The original Warner Brothers Blu-ray came with a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track and comparing the 5.1 DTS-HD MA that the Fox disc comes with I’m leaning towards thinking it’s the same mix, just a different codec used. The dialog is clean and mostly clear (there’s a little bit of background noise on really quiet scenes with minimal dialog), but the dynamic range is wide and free range. The surrounds are filled with activity when the action gets kicking, and the little background nuances of a restaurant or city street keep it from being too front heavy. LFE is never earthshaking or punishing in nature, but is used quite consistently with the action sequences and adding some weight to cars and the score. Michael Mann has a specifically focused way of mixing his tracks, and “Heat” carries that signature subtlety contrasting with moments of sharp violence and a quick uptick in the ferocity, only to settle back down again to a mild, dialog driven, experience.
• Academy Panel reuniting Mann, Pacino and De Niro and moderated by Christopher Nolan
• Toronto International Film Festival Q&A with Mann
• Audio Commentary by Michael Mann
- The Making of Heat
- True Crime
- Crime Stories
• Into the Fire
• Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation
• Return to the Scene of the Crime
• Additional Footage - Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailers
“Heat” is probably one of the best heist movies ever created, and filled with a cast of everyone who was a somebody in the mid 90s. Clocking in at almost 3 hours long the movie flies by like 90 minute action movie with Mann delicately guiding the viewer along. The film is rough, it’s brutal, and it’s bleak in both portraying the bad guys AND the good guys, but it is nothing short of incredible with the viewer staring at the screen in rapt attention. No matter how many times I’ve seen it I still get goosebumps, and 20th Century Fox’s new restoration with Michael Mann makes for the best the film has ever looked (and the old WB edition was no slouch either). There are several new extras available on the set and the included legacy extras are still well worth it. HIGHLY Recommended.
Starring: Val Kilmer, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro
Directed by: Michael Mann
Written by: Michael Mann
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, German DTS 5.1, Portuguese DTS-HD MA 2.0
Runtime: 170 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 9th, 2017
Buy Heat: Director's Definitive Edition On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Highly Recommended
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