This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Henry Carroll’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I watched Heat less than a week ago and I honestly hadn't planned on watching it again because I didn't want to diminish the magic. But then my dad said he had never seen the film and I basically forced him to watch it.
Thinking about the film I often get caught up in the scene where De Niro is making his getaway with his girlfriend. He gets off the phone with Jon Voight's character and he's home free. The gorgeous synths are blaring, the night is alive with possibility, and everything is right in the world. And you can see that all on De Niro's face as Mann edits gracefully between driver and passenger. But then his face changes and suddenly there's a massive fork in the road. Two paths stretch on forever and De Niro must make a choice between closure on his current life (his death) and the possibility of starting new. And then the scale of everything shifts dramatically as Neil seals his fate.
These are the moments of Heat that really stick with me, where the paths fork and men are forced to make choices based on their principles. And even when these choices are not being actively made, Mann constantly keeps it all in our minds through these scenes of immense longing as characters stare out on the Los Angeles skyline. They're searching for something concrete in this chaotic world they inhabit but all they get is more sprawl.
At the end when Vincent's holding on to Neil's hand and staring out into infinity, I always identify with Vincent. He just defeated his enemy who was really his friend after talking to his wife and essentially ending their marriage. He just accomplished his goal but has nothing to show for it and no one to show it to. It's that glorious moment between achieving what he had to do and getting the next goal and it's all just splendid freefall. He's right back at square one. It's rebirth and it's death. It's an eternal cycle that flows through Los Angeles and out into the night.
I'm not anything less than ecstatic about a single frame of this film.