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August 30, 2010

Heat (1995)
Director: Michael Mann
Actors: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Diane Venora

Synopsis: An arch criminal (Robert De Niro) is slowly chased down by a relentless cop (Al Pacino).

Review: This is bold, operatic filmmaking, that really does earn the label of an ‘epic’; from the elaborately-staged action set-pieces that are thrilling in their viscerality and sense of danger, to the vast array of characters who receive their own gripping psychology and motives, to the self-consciously grandiose pairing of Pacino and De Niro as kindred perfectionists posited at opposite ends of the criminal spectrum. The tagged-on emotional lives of the assorted protagonists do not feel too contrived, bar perhaps the odd occasion where the intra-narrative ironies and psychological gambits are slightly telegraphed (the sequence where Ashley Judd’s lapsed wife stands up for her criminal husband Val Kilmer is a case in point, as is the climax where De Niro lives up to his credo of “never having anything you can’t walk out on in 30 seconds” when he has to abandon his newfound love on finally being cornered by Pacino). In its entirety though, the film’s lustre far outweighs the odd indulgent whim, and the sheer craftsmanship on view is undeniable. (September 2006)

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