Tagline: “A Los Angeles crime saga”
Like most great heist movies, the central robbery in Michael Mann’s underworld epic is only the thunderous tip of a much deeper drama. Rich characterisation lends emotional gravitas to go with all the kaboom-y bits. The two men who cast the longest shadow – cop Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and robber Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) – are as much driven as they are trapped by the dangers of their jobs. But all 18 – count ‘em – central characters populate a blue-tinged City of Angels with relatable struggles that make sure we’re completely invested in them when the shooting starts – and what shooting. With ex-SAS man turned consultant Andy MacNab providing military realism, regular Mann DoP Dante Spinotti behind the camera and most of central LA at a standstill, the abortive heist explodes into a firefight so ferocious it wouldn’t have looked out of place in Saving Private Ryan. Complex and propulsive, Heat is a heist movie for the ages.
Iconic moment: That café meeting, the most famous skinny mocha frappuccino in movie history.
What to quote: “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.”
Pub trivia: While Heat shares characters and plot with Mann’s 1989 TV movie, L.A. Takedown, Xander Berkeley is the only actor to appear in both.
Further reading… Dillinger (1973), Ronin (1998), Public Enemies (2009), The Town (2010)