Oct 302009

Heat is an incredible and well layered crime-drama featuring two dynamic performances and one of the best supporting cast of any modern film. I’m a little hesitant to give this Blu-ray a full recommendation since the picture isn’t awe-inspiring but it is still a step above the DVD video, so if you can get this on sale, it is well worth picking up.




Heat (1995)


Genre(s): Crime, Drama, Action
Warner Bros. | R – 170 min. – $28.99 | November 10, 2009

Directed by:
Michael Mann
Michael Mann (written by)
Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine

Theatrical Release Date: December 15, 1995

Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs:

Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
1080p/Widescreen 2.40
English SDH, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish
Disc Size:
38.7 GB
Region Free

THE MOVIE – 5.0/5

“Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”

If there ever was a movie that could challenge The Godfather as the best movie I’ve ever seen, Heat would be it. In fact, Michael Mann’s crime-drama masterpiece is one of my all-time favorite movies as well. It’s not hard to see why. Between Mann’s amazing screenplay with compelling and complex characters and the casting of two Hollywood icons, Heat easily contends with the best movies of the 1990s, even alongside Saving Private Ryan and Titanic. Unfortunately it did not get the award acclamation nor box office success those films did.

In this intense cat-and-mouse thriller, Neil McCauley (ROBERT DE NIRO) is a skilled thief who runs a tight and disciplined crew. But when their latest heist — to steal $1m+ in treasurer bonds — goes wrong thanks to a new crewman who felt he needed to “get it on” shoots a guard, other guards are also gunned down. After destroying any evidence, McCauley unsuccessfully tries to get rid of the ass who initiated the killings. This sets off a series of events from trying to sell the bonds to the original owner (WILLIAM FICHTNER) to pulling off one of the biggest, baddest bank robbery and shootout ever captured on celluloid.

This case catches on to Lt. Vincent Hanna (AL PACINO), a dedicated and borderline obsessed robbery-homicide detective who in a way admires McCauley’s skills. Because of his commitment to his job, Hanna’s third marriage (wife played by DIANE VENORA) is on the slide and her daughter (NATALIE PORTMAN) from a previous marriage is pretty screwed up (daddy issues).

What follows is a fairly intricate and commanding story about two men who aren’t so different, just on opposite sides of the law. Although the two powerhouse actors don’t share a whole lot of screen time (maybe 25-minutes out of 170), the scenes they do share together are some of the best footage ever captured. The most prominent one at the coffee shop is to this day my favorite of all-time, even surpassing any scenes from The Godfather. To see Pacino and De Niro at their best is something to behold. I know that Pacino can be over-the-top in many movies – Heat included –; it’s the quieter moments that show how great of an actor he is versus the caricature we’ve seen as of late.

Pacino and De Niro might grab the headlines, but the supporting cast Michael Mann had gathered are fantastic. Val Kilmer, especially in the mid-90s, was at his best. Although he got more attention in 1995 for Batman Forever, he shows a hell lot more even with a character that was arguably underwritten. Same could be said for the others from Tom Sizemore – who has sadly dropped off the face of Hollywood – to Jon Voight to Ashley Judd to Dennis Haysbert to… etc, etc, etc. I know the Ocean’s movies had a ton of star power, but for my money, Heat features some of the best ensemble cast I’ve seen.

Heat isn’t just a simple cat-and-mouse story, though it is there at the core of the film, but you have a multilayered plot with complicated characters with a thin line of distinction between McCauley and Hanna. And there aren’t that many writers or directors that can pull it off, but Michael Mann does it to perfection.

If for whatever reason you still have not seen this movie, now is the time. It is fairly long by crime-drama standards, but every minute is utilized to the fullest and the opportunity to see two greats on screen together for the first time is something that cannot be missed. Forget that POS Righteous Kill, Heat is where it’s at.


All the features from the “Two-Disc Special Edition” DVD release has been ported over.

Commentary by Director Michael Mann – This track by Mann is fairly low-key but features some interesting information about the making of Heat like where certain scenes were shot. Although I love Mann’s style, I think having another commentator in there with him would’ve made for a better track.

The Making of Heat (59:13; SD) is a fascinating documentary split into 3-parts (“True Crime”, “Crime Stories” and “Into the Fire”). This is a pretty expansive look into where the idea for the movie came from to the plot, casting and filming. The most interesting part was the real life influences for McCauley and Hanna with some scenes from the movie taken from real life (like the conversation and the stakeout). Overall, this is well worth watching for any fan of the movie as you can the lowdown on the background for the project.

Interviewees include Al Pacino, Michael Mann, Dennis Farina (who served as a consultant), Jon Vought, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore and Robert De Niro (1995 interview footage), amongst others.

Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation (9:54; SD) is a featurette that examines the film’s marquee scene between the two icons. While this probably could’ve been inserted into the documentary, I am glad to see it here. The featurette has interviews with Mann, Pacino, De Niro (again, in a 1995 interview), Jon Voight and others.

Return to the Scene of the Crime (12:02; SD) – The location manager and associate producer take a trip to locations featured in the movie. It is kind of cool to see some of these places (at the time it was shot) 10 years later.

Deleted Scenes (9:31; SD) – There are 11 scenes excised from the film. Most aren’t that great but getting more screen time for these characters is fine by me. I have read that Michael Mann offered to integrate 17-minutes into the TV broadcast but with only 9-minutes here, I wonder where the rest is…

Theatrical Trailer

VIDEO – 3.5/5

Heat is presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio and unlike the 2005 DVD release, is properly aligned on screen (flushed with the left and right sides of the screen) where the DVD there was a good inch of space on the left and a little bit on the right as well, so that right there makes this a step above the DVD. Now, the other plus of the Blu-ray is that figures, especially when it comes to Al Pacino’s face, don’t look as elongated and seem more proportionate. However, the biggest downside is, this is not a movie that lends itself to looking fantastic on Blu-ray as the picture doesn’t quite have the depth as other films. That being said, skin tones look good and I noticed no real issues with over-graininess or dust/scratches.

AUDIO – 4.25/5

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, especially with the action sequences including the 5-minute gun battle in downtown L.A., sounds incredible. Bullets will ring out through your home theater with major force. Also, the finale on the LAX runway as 747’s zoom overhead will make your floor vibrate and your windows shake. The only thing I wasn’t too impressed with was that in certain scenes, dialogue seemed a tad too low while others the dialogue was very clear and loud enough. Other than that, this is definitely an impressive track.

OVERALL – 4.5/5

Heat is an incredible and well layered crime-drama featuring two dynamic performances and one of the best supporting cast of any modern film. I’m a little hesitant to give this Blu-ray a full recommendation since the picture isn’t awe-inspiring but it is still a step above the DVD video, so if you can get this on sale, it is well worth picking up.


The Movieman

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