Heat ★★★★½

”What am I doing? I'm talking to an empty telephone…Cause there is a dead man on the other end of this fuckin' line.”

I heard that quote when I watched Cashback the other night. “I love that fookin film! You should see it on my plasma! Boom boom ratta tatta blam blam!” a character exclaimed. And this gave me the craziest idea… I went out and picked up Heat on Blu-Ray today and decided to watch it for the first time since owning a Blu-Ray player. I had previously only seen it on VHS and DVD…

I poured myself a drink, opened up the window to feel the nice spring air, cranked up my tv, and let the sounds of downtown LA and intense shootouts flow out of my room. Heat is a modern crime masterpiece that is oozing with cool. I am ashamed I didn’t pick it up earlier.

Heat is not the action packed movie is seems to be. While it does contain possibly the most realistic (and deafening) shootout in movie history, that is only a few minutes of this nearly 3 hour long epic tale of cops, robbers, families, and what it means to be a criminal or a man of the law. The film brilliant film blurs the line between the two and provides a rich and detailed mirrored world where the cop and the criminal are one and the same when you take them off the battlefield. They both have complicated home lives and they both take their work home with them. This film is different from most crime or heist movies because we rarely see how these characters act behind closed doors. We just see them pulling off the heist of a life time and exchanging clichéd dialogue. Heat is simple and deeply layered at the same time. And just like the cop and criminal, it blurs those lines fantastically.

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro give excellent performances and their characters are larger than life and their collision course continuously builds momentum as the film steams on. A lot of Heat’s greatest moments don’t come when characters are exchanging gunfire but instead when they are exchanging dialogue. The diner scene mirrors the climactic bank heist scene as the two standouts in the movie. The two scenes accurately portray the two sides to cops and criminals. They are able to pull off intense bloody heists but still enjoy a cup of coffee at a diner like the rest of us. They are more human than some movies like to show them. Kudos to Michael Mann. This fable of redemption and commitment to duty is a true American classic.

It’s hard to find a lot of genuine complaints with Heat because the films great moments seem to heavily outweigh my minor complaints. Al Pacino seems to ham it up in some places (“But bayyybee, come onnnn!”) and he sometimes seems like he is reading his lines like a bored, tired man. That’s probably how his character is supposed to act, so maybe this complaint is actually a massive positive point. The Blu-Ray transfer also makes some of the skyline and background shots look like a 1990’s computer game. It’s odd, but there aren’t that many of those shots, so it isn’t that big of a complaint in the end. The cinematography otherwise is fantastic and captures the urban downtown nightlife of LA perfectly. The only other rival is Mann’s Collateral.

This has just been me gushing, but I still have to mention that damn shootout. It’s so realistic and smooth despite its chaotic action. The guns sound appropriately beefy and the shells bouncing around on the ground and glass shattering is a spectacle to see and hear in its full clarity. This is why we own HDTV’s ladies and gentlemen. Fuck Avatar.

Also, I suggest downloading this song. Have it ready to play the next time you are driving down the road alone at night with the windows down.

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