Somehow I suspect that when writer/director Michael Mann pitched Heat to the studio, all he had to say was “Let’s put Robert De Niro and Al Pacino on opposites sides of a heist movie.” The concept sort of sells itself from there. Throw in Val Kilmer and other assorted renowned actors and character actors, and you have a lot of characters for these personalities to reflect off of during the course of the 1995 film.
This is important, because despite having one of the most intense shoot-outs in cinema, Heat isn’t exactly a standard heist movie. It’s more of a character study, of a protagonist and antagonist (or two opposed protagonists, depending on how you look at it), with the heist as a framework. The heist is not the focus of the film, it’s the backdrop; the focus is how planning the heist and investigating it affect career criminal Neil McCauley (De Niro) and L.A.P.D. Lt. Vincent Hanna (Pacino). Continue reading