Natalie Portman’s acting as a kid is just as first-rate as it is now.
With the release of terrific gangster flicks in the 90s such as Goodfellas, The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, Reservoir Dogs, Casino etcetera, you’d have a hard time catching one without Robert De Niro in it. Or Al Pacino. Here comes Michael Mann, who combines the two of them together in one movie – Heat. Being experienced in crime-thrillers, Mann pens and directs an engrossing crime drama which pits Pacino and De Niro against each other – the former playing an LAPD Lieutenant, the latter playing a professional robber.
The entire premise of Heat revolves around a series of robberies committed by Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) with his team and Lt. Vincent Hanna’s (Al Pacino) efforts to capture them red-handed. Along the ride are a motley of side-characters such as McCauley’s love interest, his team mates, Hanna’s wife and stepdaughter, his colleagues, some money-launderer and a couple of rats. While the main focus is on the criminal element, quite some footage is allotted to depict the family woes faced by these professional men. This gives time to flesh out characters and establish their motivations which ensures that the writing does not come off as implausible. Action sequences are well-shot, well-directed without a distracting soundtrack to interrupt the sweet, soothing sound of machine gun firing. De Niro’s performance as a cool, career-criminal deserves praise but it’s ultimately Pacino’s performance that drives the movie home. Hilarious outbursts, witty dialogue coupled with scenes displaying his character’s anguish gives him a lot to work with and makes him utilise his full acting range. Pacino executes his role beautifully.
No wonder this is the go-to movie in the crime thriller genre. Minor complaints do exist – lengthy dramatic scenes could be cut in some places, but overall, this movie is a shining gem in Mann’s filmography.
Rating : 3.75/5