amrit’s review published on Letterboxd:
this movie is a mess.
there are at least 5 subplots, some that don't go anywhere, some that are too thin to really cover any interesting ground, some that are left in the air.
this movie includes(aside from the main storyline):
a suicidal angsty teenager with a dad who neglects her who finds solace and comfort in the arms of her stepdad
at least (2) crumbling relationships
a bank robber turned evil serial killer (think john iithgow from BLOW OUT)
a crook just released from prison struggling at his new job(think brooks from THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION except it doesn't end tragically)
so ofc this many subplots in a movie little less than 3 hours is gonna feel rushed. there are maybe like ... 3 different movies in this. as a miniseries, this would feel a lot more fleshed out, portman's depression/relationship with her father would've gotten to breathe, vincent's rocky marriage, his moral code, the reason he acts the way he does, as justine puts it, the way he "lives among the remains of the dead." there's also some of the stuff w/ waingro that could've been cut.
however, despite all of this movie's flaws(and this is a VERY flawed movie), there's something strangely... charming about this occasionally rushed+clunky jam-packed film.
as i've said multiple times before in other reviews of michael mann films, he seems to be fascinated by 1) macho men driven by a specific moral code 2) their relationships with women 3) cruel institutions(the government, the police, the fbi) 4) loneliness
all of these 4 ideas, running themes throughout mann's filmography, reach their peak here. the closest he would come to topping it would be w/ 2006's miami vice.
THE DARK KNIGHT borrows so much from this, but the idea from this film that i think it utilizes the most is how the 2 rivaling men are cut from the same cloth. in tdk's case it's batman and joker, and HEAT's case, it's vincent and neil, a cop and a robber. 2 men who are in at least what they do, polar opposites. but as they learn during the diner scene, they share a lot in common. they're both men driven by their jobs, their moral codes, they're men who love their partners, that don't wanna lose them, but know they have to. they are lonely men, misunderstood men, men who don't fit in with their environment. and despite the immense level of mutual respect that they develop for each other, they will still do anything to take the other man down. because they're dedicated to their job, the endless cycle of violence: robber commits a crime, cop chases after him. they will do anything for the people they love, but they will risk everything for their job.
of all the numerous romantic subplots in mann films, i think the one between neil and eady is by far the best one(blackhat) is second). every single scene they share together radiates with love and warmth. the way he looks at her on the balcony as they gaze out and stare and the bright lights of LA, the way he holds her in his arms in the yard, comforting her. all of these longing embraces and exchanges make their final scene all the more heartbreaking. he loves her, but he can't get attached, he has to stay distant, he can't get too attached. he doesn't let anything get in the way of what he does, he doesn't get attached, because one day he's gonna have ten seconds to walk out on her
this is a grand film, an epic one. it's on par with something like ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA in terms of scale and epicness. but there's something so.... lonely and quiet about this movie at the same time.
this was one of the first r-rated films i ever saw, and when i rewatched it for the first time in a long while last year, i was shocked at how restrained it was. there are quick outbursts of action, which i think makes those scenes all the more effective.
this is a film about many things, about the things we do for love, the things we do for our jobs, but at its core, it's a lonely and existential drama about two lost souls, isolated from their surroundings, who can't stay away from each other.
"i told you i'm never going back"