Wow, it is pretty rare to a action movie make me feel so excited.
For the record, this is a 170min film with no bullshit scenes to, as we say in Brazil, "fill up the sausage". We have 90min to present the characters, specially Lt. Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley, and the rest of the movie is the plot itself. Thats the reason for this movie be so interesting. Usually, in action movie, thrillers and all, as we know, the characters are tough, fair, incredibly smart and fast. And they are presented only as a police man, nothing else. As well as the villains, they are bad guys, man, and thats all you need to know. Here, both (cops and thieves) are presented as professionals and as social beings. You've never seen this kind of stuff in a Steven Seagal's movie.
The great thing about this movie is that, in fact, Vincent and Neil are the same guy. The issue here is to resolve Vincent's problems with his professional life, which turns him into a "zombie". Even being explosive, sarcastic and incredibly noisy, Vincent is a great professional - as well as Neil. Although Neil is more like a cool and incredibly smart guy who takes meticulous steps. The whole chaos in the movie is this two personalities facing each other and leaving behind another weak pieces of this same personality - Chris and Trejo, for example. In the ending they shake hands, the consecutive frame shows Vincent facing the city, all by his feet; and Neil is dead, facing the camera, with his back to the city. Vincent defeated his obsession for work, represented by Neil, and now he can look at the city lights and maybe enjoy it. This may look weird but if you think Vincent also saves Lauren and then kisses Justine ( and this name might be suggestive ), its easier to think that he's finding a way to fit in this 'normal' life.
Nevertheless, I must always remember of that final 'dwell' between Neil and Vincent. It is almost a western dwell. The music is clean, the camera moves from one face to another, the tension flies around like a ghost. The lighting ideas are great too: they're fundamental to make the set looks like a post-modern movie.
About the cast, I think it is O.K. This is not Pacino's best performance, De Niro is good but not great as usual and Val Kimer is the same as always - just good enough.
It's a worthy movie, but I can't call it a masterpiece due the technical aspects and the weak artistic direction, which is fundamental to me.