Heat

Heat ★★★★★

Not so much 'crime saga' as the densest, most brazen work in what's now superficially referred to as hyperlink cinema. The difference between this and the usual suspects lies in Mann's refusal to trivialize the collective struggle of urbanity; instead of mechanical cutting between elaborate but soulless character arcs that would ostensibly build up to some kind of epiphany, Heat is a messy stream — of images, ideas, moments, and gestures. The only two people who get any closure are two charismatic but spent husks who've lived their lives following hollow procedures and sets of rules, while most of the disenfranchised are either dead or left by the wayside & haunted for all eternity. Meanwhile, LA continues its daily grind. It's perfect because of how imperfect it this; the blemishes that would later grow in scope with Mann's singular experimentation with digital cinematography.

With that said, a scene that has reverberated in my mind the most over the years comes near the end, when Neil is about to make his escape to paradise with Eady. They ride through the tunnel, to the blinding light at the end of it, and just before they reach the exit there's a brief shot inside the car that captures the sense of lingering doubt on Neil's face as he's about to seal his fate once and for all. One of the most harrowing, beautiful seconds in cinematic history.

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