Heat (1995 film)

Heat is a 1995 American crime drama film written and directed by Michael Mann. It features an ensemble cast led by Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, with Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, and Val Kilmer in supporting roles.[3] The film follows the conflict between an LAPD detective, played by Pacino, and a career thief, played by De Niro, while also depicting its impact on their professional relationships and personal lives.

Mann wrote the original script for Heat in 1979, basing it off Chicago police officer Chuck Adamson's pursuit of criminal Neil McCauley, after whom De Niro's character is named.[4] The script was first used for a television pilot developed by Mann, which became the 1989 television film L.A. Takedown after the pilot did not receive a series order. In 1994, Mann revisited the script to turn it into a feature film, co-producing the project with Art Linson. The film marks De Niro and Pacino's first on-screen appearance together following a period of acclaimed performances from both. Due to their esteemed reputations, promotion centered on their involvement.

Heat was released by Warner Bros. Pictures on December 15, 1995, to critical and commercial success. It grossed $187 million on a $60 million budget, while receiving praise for Mann's direction and screenplay, action sequences, sound, and the performances of Pacino and De Niro. Although it did not receive any major award nominations, Heat is regarded as one of the most influential films of its genre and has inspired numerous other works.

Neil McCauley is a professional thief based in Los Angeles. He and his crew – right-hand man Chris Shiherlis, enforcers Michael Cheritto and Trejo, and newly hired hand Waingro – rob $1.6 million in bearer bonds from an armored car. During the heist, Waingro impulsively kills a guard. A second guard is shot and killed when he attempts to pull out his concealed weapon. In response, McCauley orders the last guard to be eliminated so as to not leave any witnesses. McCauley is incensed with Waingro for the needless escalation, and the crew prepares to kill him, but the execution is interrupted by a passing police cruiser, and Waingro escapes. The robbery is investigated by LAPD Robbery-Homicide Lieutenant Vincent Hanna and his team. Hanna, a dedicated lawman, has a strained relationship with his third wife Justine and struggles to connect with his mentally unstable stepdaughter, Lauren. McCauley, who is wary of having things in life that "you cannot leave behind in thirty seconds", begins a relationship with Eady, a graphic design artist.

In the aftermath of the robbery, McCauley's fence, Nate, suggests he sell the stolen bonds back to their original owner, money launderer Roger Van Zant, who could profit by claiming the insurance on the bonds. Van Zant quickly agrees, but is enraged at the theft and instructs his men to ambush McCauley at the meeting. McCauley and his crew, suspecting a trap, counter-ambush and kill the hitmen, and McCauley vows to kill Van Zant. An informant of the LAPD connects Cheritto to the robbery, and Hanna's team begins monitoring him, leading them to the rest of the crew and their next target, a precious metals depository. Hanna's team stakes out the depository, but when a careless officer makes a noise, McCauley makes his crew walk off the job. Hanna lets them go so he can continue gathering evidence, rather than arrest them on a minor breaking and entering charge; his team also begins separately investigating Waingro after he murders a child prostitute at a motel, and forensic evidence connects him to other murders as a serial killer.

Despite the increased police surveillance, McCauley's crew agrees to one last bank robbery worth $12.2 million. McCauley conducts counter-surveillance on Hanna and his team, learning Hanna's identity and service record. Hanna tracks down McCauley and pulls him over on the 105 Freeway, before inviting him to coffee. They talk about their commitment to their respective jobs and limitations of their personal lives. Hanna discusses his failing marriage and McCauley confides that he is similarly isolated. They both acknowledge that they will kill the other if necessary. When Hanna returns to his office, he learns that McCauley and his crew have slipped their surveillance. Waingro, knowing McCauley is hunting him, makes a deal with Van Zant to help eliminate McCauley's crew. Trejo quits the bank robbery at the last moment, claiming the LAPD is following him too closely. McCauley recruits an old colleague to take Trejo's place as the getaway driver, and the crew goes through with the heist.

Acting on a late tip from Van Zant's bodyguard Hugh Benny, the LAPD intercepts the crew as they are leaving the bank, resulting in a massive shootout where McCauley's getaway driver and many officers, including a detective on Hanna's team, are killed. McCauley manages to escape with a wounded Shiherlis. Cheritto attempts to flee by taking a child hostage, but he is intercepted and shot dead by Hanna. After leaving Shiherlis with Nate, McCauley arrives at Trejo's house to find him mortally wounded and his wife killed. Trejo reveals Waingro and Van Zant's involvement before McCauley mercy kills him at Trejo's request. An enraged McCauley then breaks into Van Zant's mansion and shoots him dead. Upon learning of McCauley's connection to Waingro and discovering that he's hiding out at a hotel, Hanna's unit decides to use him as bait to lure McCauley in. As McCauley prepares to flee, Eady discovers his criminal identity, but eventually agrees to go with him. Before escaping, Shiherlis attempts to reconnect with his estranged wife Charlene, who had been forced by the LAPD to bring in her husband; he exchanges a glance with her at her hotel, before she warns him away with a hand gesture, and he successfully escapes.

Hanna finds Lauren unresponsive in the bathtub after a suicide attempt and rushes her to the hospital. He and Justine comfort and reconcile with each other after learning that she has survived. Meanwhile, McCauley drives to the airport with Eady to flee to New Zealand, but learns of Waingro's location and abandons his usual caution to seek revenge, unaware it's a trap. The LAPD learns of McCauley's arrival at Waingro's hotel. Despite becoming aware of police presence, McCauley avoids them, bursts into Waingro's room, and kills him. But before he can return to Eady and escape, he is spotted by Hanna and flees alone on foot. Hanna pursues McCauley onto the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport; McCauley attempts to ambush Hanna, but Hanna catches sight of his shadow at the last second, turning around and shooting him in the chest. Hanna takes his hand as McCauley succumbs to his wounds and dies, while Hanna watches, weary and resigned.

Additional cast members include Martin Ferrero as a construction clerk and Hazelle Goodman as the mother of a prostitute murdered by Waingro. Featured as members of the LAPD are Paul Herman as Sergeant Heinz, Cindy Katz as forensics investigator Cindy, and Dan Martin as Detective Harry Dieter. Stuntmen Rick Avery, Bill McIntosh, and Thomas Rosales Jr. portray the armored truck guards. Patricia Healy appears as a woman in a relationship with Bosko and Yvonne Zima plays the girl taken hostage by Cheritto. News reporter Claudia is portrayed by Farrah Forke.

De Niro was the first cast member to get the film script, showing it to Pacino who also wanted to be a part of the film. De Niro believed Heat was a "very good story, had a particular feel to it, a reality and authenticity."[5] Xander Berkeley had played Waingro in L.A. Takedown, an earlier rendition of Mann's script for Heat. He was cast in a minor role in Heat.[5][6] In 2016, Pacino revealed that he viewed his character as having been under the influence of cocaine throughout the whole film.[7]

In order to prepare the actors for the roles of McCauley's crew, Mann took Kilmer, Sizemore, and De Niro to Folsom State Prison to interview actual career criminals. While researching her role, Judd met several former prostitutes who became housewives.[5]

Heat is based on the true story of Neil McCauley, a calculating criminal and ex-Alcatraz inmate who was tracked down by Detective Chuck Adamson in 1964.[8][9] In 1961, McCauley was transferred from Alcatraz to McNeil, as mentioned in the film. When he was released, in 1962, he immediately began planning new heists. With Michael Parille and William Pinkerton, they used bolt cutters and drills to burgle a manufacturing company of diamond drill bits, a scene which is recreated in the film. Detective Chuck Adamson, upon whom Al Pacino's character is largely based, began keeping tabs on McCauley's crew around this time, knowing that he had become active again. The two even met for coffee once, just as portrayed in the film.[9] Their dialogue in the script was based on the conversation that McCauley and Adamson had. The next time the two met, guns were drawn, just as the movie portrays.[9]

On March 25, 1964, McCauley and members of his regular crew followed an armored car that delivered money to a National Tea grocery store at 4720 S. Cicero Avenue, Chicago.[11] Once the drop was made, three of the robbers entered the store. They threatened the clerks and stole money bags worth $13,137[11] (equivalent to $110,000 in 2020) before they sped off in a rainstorm amid a hail of police gunfire.[9]

McCauley's crew was unaware that Adamson and eight other detectives had blocked off all potential exits, and when the getaway car turned down an alley and the robbers saw the blockade, they realized they were trapped. All four exited the vehicle and began firing. Two of his crew, Russell Bredon (Breaden) and Parille, were slain in an alley while a third man, Miklos Polesti (on whom Chris Shiherlis is very loosely based),[9] shot his way out and escaped. McCauley was shot to death on the lawn of a nearby home. He was 50 years old and the prime suspect in several burglaries.[12] Polesti was caught days later and sent to prison. As of 2011 Polesti was still alive.

Adamson went on to a successful career as a television and film producer, and died in 2008 at age 71.[13] Michael Mann's 2009 film Public Enemies stated in its end credits "In memory of Chuck Adamson". As an additional inspiration for Hanna, in a 1995 interview Mann cited an unnamed man working internationally against drug cartels.[14] Additionally, the character of Nate, played by Jon Voight, is based on real-life former career criminal and fence turned writer Edward Bunker, who served as a consultant to Mann on the film.[9][15]

In 1979, Mann wrote a 180-page draft of Heat. He re-wrote it after making Thief in 1981 hoping to find a director to make it and mentioning it publicly in a promotional interview for his 1983 film The Keep. In the late 1980s, he offered the film to his friend, film director Walter Hill, who turned him down.[5] Following the success of Miami Vice and Crime Story, Mann was to produce a new crime television show for NBC. He turned the script that would become Heat into a 90-minute pilot for a television series featuring the Los Angeles Police Department Robbery–Homicide division,[5] featuring Scott Plank in the role of Hanna and Alex McArthur playing the character of Neil McCauley, renamed to Patrick McLaren.[6] The pilot was shot in only nineteen days, atypical for Mann.[5] The script was abridged down to almost a third of its original length, omitting many subplots that made it into Heat. The network was unhappy with Plank as the lead actor, and asked Mann to recast Hanna's role. Mann declined and the show was canceled and the pilot aired on August 27, 1989 as a television film entitled L.A. Takedown[5] which was later released on VHS and DVD in Europe.[16]

In April 1994, Mann was reported to have abandoned his earlier plan to shoot a biopic of James Dean in favor of directing Heat, producing it with Art Linson. The film was marketed as the first on-screen appearance of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro together in the same scene – both actors had previously starred in The Godfather Part II, but owing to the nature of their roles, they were never seen in the same scene.[17] Pacino and De Niro were Mann's first choices for the roles of Hanna and McCauley, respectively, and they both immediately agreed to act.[18]

Mann assigned Janice Polley, a former collaborator on The Last of the Mohicans, as the film's location manager. Scouting locations lasted from August to December 1994. Mann requested locations which had not appeared on film before, in which Polley was successful – fewer than 10 of the 85 filming locations were previously used. The most challenging shooting location proved to be Los Angeles International Airport, with the film crew almost missing out due to a threat to the airport by the Unabomber.[5] On the DVD commentary, Mann noted it would be impossible to film the airport climax in the same way following the events of 9/11.

To make the long shootout more realistic they hired British ex-Special Air Service special forces sergeant Andy McNab as a technical weapons trainer and adviser.[19] He designed a weapons training curriculum to train the actors for three months using live ammunition before shooting with blanks for the actual take and worked with training them for the bank robbery.[20]

Principal photography for Heat lasted 107 days. All of the shooting was done on location, due to Mann's decision not to use a soundstage.[5]

Heat was released on December 15, 1995, and opened #3 in the box office with $8.4 million from 1,325 theaters, finishing third behind Jumanji and Toy Story.[21] It went on to have a total gross of $67.4 million in United States box offices, and $120 million in foreign box offices.[22] Heat was ranked the #25 highest-grossing film of 1995.[22]

Heat was released on VHS in June 1996.[23][24] Due to its running time, the film had to be released on two cassettes.[24] A DVD release followed in 1999.[25] A two-disc special-edition DVD was released in 2005, featuring an audio commentary by Michael Mann, deleted scenes, and numerous documentaries detailing the film's production.[citation needed] This edition contains the original theatrical cut.[26]

The initial Blu-ray Disc was released on November 10, 2009, featuring a high-definition film transfer, supervised by Mann.[27] Among the disc extras were Mann's audio commentary, a one-hour documentary about the making of the film and ten minutes worth of scenes cut from the film.[28] As well as approving the look of the transfer, Mann also recut two scenes slightly differently, referring to them as "new content changes".[29]

A Director's Definitive Edition Blu-Ray was released on May 9, 2017, by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, who acquired the distribution rights to the film through their part-ownership of Regency back in 2015. Sourced from a 4K remaster of the film supervised by Mann, the two-disc set contains all the extras from the 2009 Blu-ray, along with two filmmakers panels from 2015 and 2016, one of which was moderated by Christopher Nolan.[30]

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 87% based on 83 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though Al Pacino and Robert De Niro share but a handful of screen minutes together, Heat is an engrossing crime drama that draws compelling performances from its stars—and confirms Michael Mann's mastery of the genre."[31] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 76 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[32] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[33]

Roger Ebert gave the film 3+12 stars out of 4. He described Mann's script as "uncommonly literate", with a psychological insight into the symbiotic relationship between police and criminals, and the fractured intimacy between the male and female characters: "It's not just an action picture. Above all, the dialogue is complex enough to allow the characters to say what they're thinking: They are eloquent, insightful, fanciful, poetic when necessary. They're not trapped with cliches. Of the many imprisonments possible in our world, one of the worst must be to be inarticulate—to be unable to tell another person what you really feel."[34] Simon Cote of The Austin Chronicle called the film "one of the most intelligent crime-thrillers to come along in years", and said Pacino and De Niro's scenes together were "poignant and gripping."[35]

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called the film a "sleek, accomplished piece of work, meticulously controlled and completely involving. The dark end of the street doesn't get much more inviting than this."[36] Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote, "Stunningly made and incisively acted by a large and terrific cast, Michael Mann's ambitious study of the relativity of good and evil stands apart from other films of its type by virtue of its extraordinarily rich characterizations and its thoughtful, deeply melancholy take on modern life."[3] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave it a B− rating, saying that "Mann's action scenes ... have an existential, you-are-there jitteriness," but called the heist-planning and Hanna's investigation scenes "dry, talky."[37]

Rolling Stone ranked Heat #28 on its list of "The 100 Greatest Movies of the '90s",[38] and The Guardian ranked it #22 on its list of "The Greatest Crime Films of All Time",[39] while other publications have noted its influence on numerous subsequent films.[40]

French gangster Rédoine Faïd told Mann at a film festival "You were my technical adviser".[41] The media described later robberies as resembling scenes from Heat, including armored car robberies in South Africa,[42] Colombia,[43] Denmark, and Norway[44] and the 1997 North Hollywood shootout, in which Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu robbed the North Hollywood branch of the Bank of America and, similarly to the film, were confronted by the LAPD as they left the bank. Phillips had a copy of the movie where he lived.[citation needed] This shootout is considered one of the longest and bloodiest events of its type in American police history. Both robbers were killed, and eleven police officers and seven civilians were injured during the shootout.[45] Heat was widely referenced during the coverage of the shootout.[46]

For his film The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan drew inspiration in his portrayal of Gotham City from Heat in order "to tell a very large, city story or the story of a city".[47] In 2016, a year after its 20th anniversary, Nolan moderated a Q&A session with Michael Mann and cast and crew at the Academy.[48]

Heat was one of the inspirations behind the highly influential 2001 video game Grand Theft Auto III[49] as well as its 2013 sequel Grand Theft Auto V, notably the mission "Blitz Play" where the crew blocks and then knocks over an armored car in order to rob it.[50]

In March 2016, Mann announced that he is developing a Heat prequel novel as part of launching his company Michael Mann Books.[51] As of January 2019, the book has been completed.[52]

On December 19, 1995, Warner Bros. Records released a soundtrack album on cassette and CD to accompany the film, entitled Heat: Music from the Motion Picture.[55] The album was produced by Matthias Gohl. It contains a 29-minute selection of the film score composed by Elliot Goldenthal, as well as songs by other artists such as U2 and Brian Eno (collaborating as Passengers), Terje Rypdal, Moby, and Lisa Gerrard. Heat used an abridged instrumental rendition of the Joy Division song "New Dawn Fades" by Moby, which also features in the same form on the soundtrack album. Mann reused the Einstürzende Neubauten track "Armenia" in his 1999 film The Insider.[56] The film ends with Moby's "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters", a different version of which was included at the end of the soundtrack album.[53]

Mann and Goldenthal decided on an atmospheric situation for the film soundtrack. Goldenthal used a setup consisting of multiple guitars, which he termed "guitar orchestra", and thought it brought the film score closer to a European style. The soundtrack was noted for lack of a central theme. Christian Clemmensen of Filmtracks.com criticized the omission from the album of much music heard in the film due to the film's length, but praised the album as a decent listening experience, and Goldenthal's score as "psychologically engaging and intellectually challenging", believing it to be one of Goldenthal's best.[53] AllMusic called it a "soundtrack for the mind ... full of twists and turns".[55] Musicfromthemovies.com thought of the album as uncharacteristic for Goldenthal's style, calling the atmosphere "absolutely electrifying".[54]

A video game based on the film was announced at E3 2006, under development by Gearbox Software for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.[58] During E3 2009, it was revealed that Gearbox did not have the license of the film to make the game, as this was being optioned to be sold.[59] Michael Mann, director of the film, was reported to be involved with the game. In a 2009 interview Randy Pitchford, President, CEO, and co-founder of Gearbox Software, said that development of the game had been halted and the IP could potentially be available to another developer saying:

In a nutshell, we're nowhere. We have passionate game makers that would love to do it. We've got filmmakers that think it's a great idea that would love to see it done. We have publishing partners that would love to publish it. But we have no time. That's the limiting factor. Because of the situation, we're not keeping the IP locked down anymore. So if somebody else were in a spot where they could do it, and everybody was comfortable with that, then conceivably that could happen.[60]

In September 2019, Mann was asked whether he will produce or make a film of the novel, to which he replied "absolutely" and stated "The landscape is changing so radically and so quickly, who knows?" when being asked on whether it would be a film or a series.[61] In May 2020, 25 years following the film's release, Michael Mann stated he was writing a novel which would serve as a prequel to the film's main events, as well as a sequel which he teased in 2016.[62]