I find Michael Mann a tough director to like. He’s good at what he does, no question, but there’s that sense that he tries too hard, too hard to stick to his particular style, and too much effort to sell his films to too many demographics at once. He fills his films with so much that the logic is that everyone should be happy with it because there’s something for everybody to like. This works when the film is very streamlined, like Collateral, which I was a fan of, but for films that aren’t, it just appears bloated. This is especially true for Heat, Mann’s opus crime drama that pairs two of the biggest stars of the last generation of acting, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro (though they share only a fraction of the screen time together).
The film is absolutely chock full of technical shots and some extremely fast-paced editing. Some impressive stuff, but for me it just helps solidify my opinion that Mann tries a little too hard with his films. The film is moderately paced, which makes the fast editing somewhat of a contradiction, but it’s usually saved for the action, so I’ll let it slide. On the editing standpoint, though, this film could have definitely benefited from some trimming work; 170 minutes is a heck of a running time for a moderate crime drama, even with the cast it supports, and not only does the film juggle a lot of material, there are a lot of extraneous shots and scenes that linger for longer than they should. Speaking of the cast, this film has one heck of a cast, even aside from Pacino and De Niro; many of the faces you will recognize from other films, even if you can’t place their names, and everyone is committed to the film, you can tell.
This had been on my to-watch list for quite some time (and one of the reasons I ended up steered towards Manhunter first), and I’m not really sure what took me so long to get to it, aside from the running time. That might’ve been enough, though. All in all, however, I’m not really sure this was worth it. I was a fan of Collateral; it was much more streamlined, and thus much more satisfying and entertaining; this just seemed like it was desperately trying to be the next big crime epic, and while it succeeds in many ways, it doesn’t succeed in its goal, at least in my opinion. I’d say this is at least worth the watch if it wasn’t so needlessly long; otherwise, this is pretty standard fare with a stellar cast that gets the job done, if not up to specifications.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10