Adrian’s review published on Letterboxd:
'Told you I'm never going back...'
Although I have seen Michael Mann's Heat for the very first time yesterday, I am tempted to call this a perfect movie. Usually, I have to watch a movie a few more times to come to this conclusion, but at the very moment when the credits rolled, I instantly knew that I have just witnessed a masterpiece of a movie. Not only is Heat a milestone in the genre of crime thrillers, it also masterfully blends several other genres like drama, action and noir.
This genre mix is the great strength of Heat. Michael Mann's screenplay allows the viewer to dive deeply into the world of our main characters. Thereby, it doesn't only put emphasis on action scenes, heist scenes or gunfights. It rather emphasizes the inner world of our characters. We learn about their relationships, we learn about their motivations, and we learn about their emotions. Not only does this allow us to get a deeper connection with our characters, it also allows us to get a sense for their decisions and actions.
Mann's flawless direction plays a major part in this deep connection between the viewer and our characters. He allows every single one of his main characters enough screentime to develop their personality. I have actually never seen a movie where I could understand our main character's actions that good, how morally wrong they may be. Mann also perfectly manages to keep the balance between the quiet scenes and the action scenes. Although he dedicates his characters a lot of time to develop, he never forgets about the crime aspects of this movie. Especially the shootout in the middle section is one of the finest scenes I have ever experienced. I love the fact that Mann takes these 15 minutes to unfold one of the greatest gunfights the movie world has ever seen.
Technically, Heat is expertly crafted. Dante Spinotti's camera work is absolutely outstanding, capturing Los Angeles in a brilliant manner. Whether day or night, every shot, whether it's a close-up or a wide-range shot, reaches perfection. The decision to shoot the movie on location proved to be the right one, because it added a lot to the realism of the action. Elliot Goldenthal's score is also perfectly used to add a lot of suspense to every single scene.
Besides from all those aspects, Heat also lives from its performances. Bringing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro together on the screen for the first time in history is one of the best things that has ever happened to movies in general. Their screen presence is simply incredible, especially in the scene where they are together, having a cup of coffee. Although they're just talking, there is some kind of tangible tension where you always think that something could be happening the very next moment. Simply brilliant. Of course, the rest of the supporting cast, starring Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Danny Trejo etc. is brilliant as well, but they're outshined by Pacino and De Niro.
All in all, Heat is a masterpiece of its genre, and although I haven't seen many of Mann's movies, something that will change with the next few weeks, I doubt that there's a better movie from this man. Heat is brimfull with action, drama, romance and tragedy, and I can't wait to watch it again.