Heat - Two Disc Special Edition is a story about men. It is a man's movie. Not a guy's movie. Not a dudes movie. Heat - Two Disc Special Edition is a brilliant character expose of what it means to be man in today's society. In this film, we get a sterling insight into two distinctly different types of men. Those who obey the law and those who break it. In a nutshell, Heat - Two Disc Special Edition is the tale of a good guy(Al Pacino) and a Bad guy(Robert DeNiro). Pacino makes his living putting guys like DeNiro away. DeNiro makes his living as a career criminal. Someone who you can put in a room and in seconds he has it down. He's always thinking. Always on the move. Always readjusting his thought process. After robbing an armored car, in which a kickass cowboy who isn't part of DeNiro's group wastes a bunch of people(something DeNiro would never do unless he had to), Pacino is on the case and in pursuit. Over the course of this 172 minute film, a game of cat and mouse ensues with the end result being that the line between those who obey and those who break the law gets grayer and grayer the further you move toward it.
Robert DeNiro is great in this movie. It is one his best performances. Right up there with Johnny Boy from Mean Streets and Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver. He plays this character perfectly. There is never a false note. Everything from his eye movements, to his facial gestures are a marvel to behold. Other then Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, I don't think I have seen someone emote so much while doing so little. From his dialogue delivery, to when he actually does take action, everything seems to be exactly how you might expect from someone in his position. He is a man who lives by a code. He is like a samurai. And his eventually downfall comes only when he lets greed be the better part of valor.
Al Pacino is a revelation. Many people have expressed contempt to me for his performance in this movie. They think he is yelling the whole time. They hate lines such as, "You get killed walkin' your doggy!". The thing is, I have spent a decent amount of time around the people that Pacino's character has to deal with. Druggies, drug dealers, liars, swindlers, thieves,etc... . After awhile, one gets tired of the jive...the BS lines that these people try and feed you. The same storied, sorry tales that always end in a plea that they "want to get better" but they can't help themselves. I am not saying these people don't need help, I can just understand while after awhile someone like Pacino would need to be the way he is. They would need to have that "go-go" head. They would not suffer the fools easily. As a result of this, they too would have to act a little crazy. Maybe even go a little crazy...
I also must highlight the performance of Kevin Gage as Waingro. Everyone is great in this movie. Tom Sizemore is his usual brilliant self. Danny Trejo is awesome. I am citing Kevin Gage because his performance in this movie is shockingly scary. The way he talks, the way he looks, the way his eyes seize on his victims...he is pitch perfect. It is sad to me that this role didn't catapult him to bigger things. I have seen him in other movies but he never commands the screen like he did in Heat - Two Disc Special Edition. Michael Mann must be commended for really knowing how to use this particular character.
To wrap this up, I would just like to say that Heat - Two Disc Special Edition is just as amazing to watch now as it was 10 years ago. Everything about this movie holds up. It is right up there with all the classic crime movies. In fact, other then William Friedkin's To Live and Die in LA, I don't think I have seen a movie that has painted LA in such lush, vivid colors. This movie is gritty and beautiful all at the same time. While watching this movie unfold, frame by frame, we are seeing a director who has mastered his medium. Who has elevated the level of visual storytelling to that of art. All while making a highly charged, supremely stylized an entertaining, epic crime picture.
Commentary by Writer/Producer/Director Michael Mann
Michael Mann never just starts talking. He always waits until just the right moment to start telling the tale of his movie. He doesn't introduce himself, he just begins. (I also love that I was right that Collateral ends at the very place where Heat begins. I know that a lot of people find Michael Mann to be a little bit of a blowhard. They don't think his commentaries are interesting, and there were a few times on the Ali commentary where it sounded like he was about to knock off and go to sleep, but I love his commentaries. I could listen to him talk about things for hours. How he breaks down the film, the character, the story all in words that I only vaguely understand. Which I think is a part of this commentaries charm.
11 Additional Scenes
I love everything about these deleted scenes. When the opening one is about Michael Cheritto(Tom Sizemore) buying the hockey masks that they are going to use for the opening armored truck job, what is not to like? Moving over to the "C Block" scene in which Pacino is talking about cows farting, all with the same intensity he brings to any scene in which he's questioning a suspect. Or seeing the "Double the Worst Trouble" scene, just a great moment highlighted again between DeNiro and Jeremy Piven. I usually don't go for deleted scenes, but I will take them on a Michael Mann film any day. Do I think this things are that great? Maybe. Should they be on this 2 disc set? Yes!
5 New Making of Documentaries
These are broken up as "True Crime", "Crime Stories", "Into the Fire", "Pacino and DeNiro: The Conversation", and "Return to the Scene of the Crime". While there is a lot of glad handing in certain parts, people talking about how great other people are to work with(standard stuff you have come to expect from these companion pieces), all of these 5 documentaries set about illuminating something a little bit more in regards to this film. My favorite out of the 5 was "Crime Stories", mainly because I am sucker for the development process. It seems like a film like Heat would be a no brainer for a studio to make, but as we learn, the road is never that easy.
Presented in a "Letterbox" Widescreen Format Preserving the "scope" aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs. Watching this on my small TV set wasn't enough. This is a movie that is made for the silver screen. It is bigger then life. Every image, every sequence...Michael Mann and Director of Photography Danti Spinotti conspire to create such richness out of the ordinary. The street, a truck, a bar, etc. Everything is made to look important, while not over stylizing anything. The transfer on this DVD is great. I didn't notice anything wrong with the original release, but this version seems to have a little bit more. As if it has just been punched up and brightened so that anything that may have been missed is now illuminated for everyone to see. The compression rate on this dual layer disc looks to be perfect. Heat - Two Disc Special Edition is a natural not only for the screen, but for the home theater experience as well. I watched it on my small set at home and this movie will always work for me, but this was one of the few times that having a surround system and huge screen would have been really nice.
Dolby Digital - English and French 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound. As someone who owns both soundtracks for this movie, the sound is of paramount importance. I know that I am deaf in one ear, but I love the sounds used in this movie. Whether it is just ambient music, Moby covering "New Dawn Fades" by Joy Division, or just sounds...all of this comes together to add a richness and texture to an otherwise already rich movie. I especially loved the ambiance we hear when the first robbery is taking place. It is calculating and precisely cut, much like the way that crime is pulled off. Then end song by Moby, "G-d Moving Over The Face Of The Waters", is one of those rare pieces where inspiration, sound and image combine to create something bigger then I think anybody could have ever expected. This, a song that without words, speaks to a greater part of our humanity. Showing us that for a brief moment, there really is something bigger then us. Something more important then the things we let come between us. Much like the final shot of Pacino and DeNiro in this movie.
The packaging of this special edition is actually quite similar to that of initial DVD release of Heat. The image of Pacino, DeNiro and Val Kilmer is still a very strong one, only for the special edition they have swapped out the picture under them of the LA transit system, and replaced with gunmen in masks. The back is interesting in that there is a picture of Pacino and DeNiro but there is no explanation of what the movie is about. For someone like me, this is fine but what about the uninitiated? I guess when you have a 2 disc set that is packed with extras, listing out what all those extras are was probably of the utmost importance. Inside are the 2 DVDs, one with the picture of Pacino, DeNiro and Kilmer and the other one with the gunmen in masks. On the whole, there is nothing too "crazy" about this DVD packaging. It looks good and certainly does the job, it's just that other then being a supersized version of the original, this 2 disc set isn't that much different from the packaging that came with the first disc.
Heat - Two Disc Special Edition is one of my favorite movies. I say this because this review is basically a "love letter" to this film. I have watched this film I cannot tell you how many times. It is partially the reason that I became an extra in movies. I just loved the idea that you could be a part of films like this. Having gotten my start on the Michael Mann film Ali, I went back and rewatched this movie as well as many of his others. While the work was grueling, the hours long and the job thankless...I felt that if what he created was the end result then it was worth any and all hardships that I might have to endure.
This special edition is a great piece of filmmaking. A necessary part of any serious collectors collection. While it is mainly just a supped up version of the original, the extras create another dimension to this movie. It illuminates a little bit more without giving everything away or answering all the character motivated questions.
Quite simply, I am thankful and honored to have reviewed and now own the Heat - Two Disc Special Edition.
Heat was released December 15, 1995.