Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Heat (1995)

Career detective Hanna (Al Pacino) is hot on the trail of career criminal McCauley (Robert De Niro), who is busy assembling a team for that proverbial Last Big Job before fleeing the country for good. But an extravagantly botched armed car robbery leaves three security officers dead and a stooge named Waingro on the lam, running not only from the cops but from a revenge-seeking McCauley himself. Waingro enlists a money-laundering banker, burned on a previous job, to take McCauley out of play. Meanwhile, detective Hanna's marriage disintegrates due to his obsession with catching the bad guys, and McCauley falls in surprise love with a bookstore clerk/graphic artist; gee-willikers, maybe they can escape together, to the Good Life...

Michael Mann's thriller aims to be brooding and philosophical, a kind of Thinking Man's gritty crime drama, and seems to have been built around two standout sequences: a ridiculous midday shoot-out in downtown LA, and a hushed, tensile conversation between McCauley and Hanna in a coffeeshop. But most of the film is bloated static (including, critically, the final showdown on an airport runway). An all-star cast is generally wasted on zest-less characters, the terrific Dennis Haysbert in particular. Overrated, disposable exercise in by-the-numbers con-man fiction.

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