Blu-ray/DVD, Reviews

“Heat” a Crime Drama Classic

 

Back in circulation on Blu-ray, the crime film Heat makes a move to upgrade the film that offers an acting tour de force in a classic crime movie. It’s been 22 years since it hit the big screen amassing over $187 million worldwide at the box office when it came out in 1995. But what makes this movie a stand out is its amazing cast that not only carries this film, but upped their own careers as well.

Set in Los Angeles we find recently paroled ex-con Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) heading up an armored car robbery that should have been a simple walk in the park. After an ill-fated shooting involving a newly hired convict Waingro (Kevin Cage) turns the robbery deadly, McCauley and three other gang members Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore), Trijo (Danny Trijo) and Chris Sheherlis (Val Kilmer) head for a meeting.

Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) meet in a coffee house in HEAT

Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) gets the call by the LA Police to handle the robbery and murder of the armored car guards. He’s an intense detective and wants to get to the bottom of the case right away. With little leads to go on, he still presses on putting himself in harm’s way as he takes chances getting information from known criminals.

So begins a cat and mouse suspense thriller that takes many twists and turns. Director and writer Michael Mann (Miami Vice) takes his film into the streets and inside seedy sets and situations. He lets his main actors De Niro and Pacino show their character’s determination; one who wants to walk away with the loot and the other who wants to stop him at all costs.

Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) and Chris Sheherlis (Val Kilmer) in a street battle with police in HEAT

The film is loaded with actors who have made their way up the latter of success having good careers. In addition to Al Pacino and Robert De Niro who control all the action, actors like Val Kilmer nails his role of as Chris. Chris is a novice upcoming felon who takes orders from McCauley knowing full well that he may never survive being in the rag tag gang. Kilmer went on to take on roles like Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever, The Ghost in the Darkness and 92 other credits for his career.

Another notable, Oscar winner Jon Voigt, plays LA kingpin Nate who doles out jobs to McCauley. Voigt gets a boost from the 1995 film leading him to Phelps in Mission: Impossible, then the movie Enemy of the State and on to 92 other credits. Ashley Judd plays Charlene the wife of Chris who finds herself in the middle of a duel between two mortal enemies. After Heat she accepted a role in A Time to Kill and followed that with 40 others that include the hits Kiss the Girls and De-Lovely that earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

Chris Sheherlis (Val Kilmer) kiss his wife Charlene (Ashley Judd) on the cheek in HEAT

There are many more from Heat who earned career boosts including Wess Studi (91 credits including Avatar), Danny Trejo (over 300 credits including Bad Ass, Machete, From Dusk Till Dawn and Con Air), Jeremy Piven (with over 90 credits in his career including “Entourage” TV series and Old School) and a young Dennis Haysbert (has over 100 credits that include TV’s “24”, Major League and Waiting to Exhale).

A scrawny young 14-year-old Natalie Portman plays Lauren Gustafson the conflicted daughter of Justine (Diane Venora). She cannot come to grips as to why her divorced father has avoided her. Lt. Hanna tries to level the field as a father figure while her mother can’t cope with the situation. Portman plays a minor pivotal role in the film showing how Lt. Hanna has slipped away from family to the point of damaging his relationship with Justine.

If you didn’t pick up a copy of Heat when it was released on Blu-ray in 2009, the 2017 Blu-ray has the movie on one disc and a disc filled with an hour of new bonus features + Digital Download.

BONUS FEATURES

On disc one you will find the following Bonus Extra:
“Audio Commentary by Michael Mann”

On disc two there are over an hour of bonus features including:
“Toronto International Film Festival interview with Michael Mann”
“Academy Q&A with Christopher Nolan”
“3 Part Documentary of the Making of Heat”
“Pacino and De Niro: the Conversation”
“Return to the Scene of the Crime”
“Deleted Scenes”

Heat has been rated R by the MPAA for language and violence. There are also scenes inferring sexuality and sexual innuendos. The film is based on the real Neil McCauley who was actually an ex-con that served prison terms at Alcatraz. The film spools out slowly in the nearly 3 hour movie.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A must have for crime fans and those who like a good action thriller.

Specifications and additional video information:
Cast: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Jon Voight, Val Kilmer, Natalie Portman, William Fichtner, Dennis Haysbert, Hank Azaria, Danny Trio and Jeremy Piven
Director: Michael Mann
MPAA Rating:  R for violence and language 
Genre: Crime
Running Time: 2 hrs. 50 min.
Video Release Date: May 9, 2017
Original Theatrical Release Date: December 15, 1995
Language: English (can be changed to French)
Reviewed Format: Blu-ray
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Video: Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Number of Discs: 2 Discs + Digital HD
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 12 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com

3 Comments

    1. To KC Scott… you are so right KC and thank you for catching my mistake. Charlene is the wife of Chris and I give you full credit and have corrected the article. Did you like the film?

  1. One of my favorite crime dramas. The coffee house meeting is a classic as is the protracted street shoot out.