Mascott’s Movie Rewind – Heat

Originally posted June 17th, 2010.

The Kidd here again, and I think we’ve found a keeper here at with Mascott’s Movie Rewind. Last week, we got to see TRUE LIES 16 years later through the eyes of someones who’d never seen it before, which is sad. This week, we get to see HEAT 15 years later through the eyes of that same someone who had never seen this before until now, which is even sadder. However, what he lacks in initial exposure, Mascott more than makes up for it in entertainment and complete randomness. So enjoy his fresh take on HEAT:



For this second assignment, I’m rewinding HEAT, the 1995 action drama, starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer with a ponytail.

Now, I generally watch my Netflix movies in one of a few places – my Xbox 360, which has to be jury rigged to my netbook, Maxwell, to connect to the internet; my Wii, when such a rigging is not possible; or actually on my netbook. I watched a lot of HEAT on my netbook, and Netflix didn’t seem to be at its best these past few days. This caused the quality of the video to turn into something off of a dirty cassette tape, and I loved it. It put me in the correct mood, I think, to watch a gritty crime drama from the mid-nineties.

I hadn’t seen HEAT before, but much like I did with James Cameron and AVATAR, I discounted director Michael Mann after I saw PUBLIC ENEMIES. That was a movie I was almost sure you could not screw up, but inevitably one I did not enjoy all that much. The only thing I remember clearly from PUBLIC ENEMIES is the fact that at one point, a car door slams with the sound of a shotgun.

When I started up HEAT, the first thing I noticed was the runtime. It’s a hair under three hours long. HEAT is a very long movie. That’s not to say it’s worse for the long running time, the opposite in fact. HEAT needs every minute of those three hours to tell its story.

And what a story it is. It twists and turns and then it twists again, showing you there was never really a twist in the first place. It’s a crime movie, but it’s a drama. Pacino’s got a daughter (a 13-year-old Natalie Portman, who looks suspiciously like a 19-year-old Keira Knightley) who has problems. De Niro is keeping a lady friend happy when he’s not holding up banks with his two partners, Val Kilmer and Val Kilmer’s Ponytail (The muscle, the smooth talker, and the prettyboy). It was best explained to me when I was told that each character has two storylines going on for them at any given time – their real lives and their crime lives (Kilmer’s Ponytail is the informer. SPOILERS!).

The movie is half-UNTOUCHABLES and half-ORDINARY PEOPLE. There’s at least one scene that, if you’re even pretending to be human, should make you genuinely very uncomfortable. It’s a weird combination, and if you’re watching scenes, it’ll feel weird, but if you’re watching the whole movie, then it should be fine.

And then there’s Pacino. To put it lightly, this movie is chewed up and spit right the fuck back out by Pacino. If you can read Italian, you’ll have noticed that the Italian title translates roughly to “Al Pacino and his Enormous Testicles,” and that’s because that’s what the movie is about – Al Pacino’s Enormous Testicles. His character is a giant badass, really, but within the spectrum of the real world, he’s believable. Robert DeNiro is kind of awesome too, but he doesn’t have the balls of a Spanish matador when he’s up against another old guy.

HEAT is a movie that is inflicted by a problem that I’ve recently begun to see in a lot of places, something I call “FINAL FANTASY 13 Syndrome.” For those not familiar with the game or the series, FINAL FANTASY is known for sweeping, epic, long lasting experiences. The most recent iteration, FINAL FANTASY 13, expands that to ridiculous proportions with seventy-five hours of playtime. However, the first twenty-five hours are somewhat uninteresting and can be tough to play through. The remaining fifty being really, really great. The question there is, “How long am I willing to wait for this to ramp up?” The first hour of this movie is a bit tough to watch. It’s not necessarily confusing or complicated, there’s just a whole lot going on, and it wasn’t easy to hang onto. After that point, it gets really good and everything in that first hour falls into place and makes complete sense in the overall scheme of the film. It becomes epic without having to worry about every little thing going on.

(And I still haven’t gotten to the good part of FINAL FANTASY 13.)

Looking back, you can see that HEAT is just influential as hell. The thing that sticks out most in my mind is the most recent Batman flick, THE DARK KNIGHT. Its portrayal of organized crime was obviously inspired by HEAT, as was its clean but dirty rotten cinematography, its dedicated characters, and its use of knowledge as a valuable tool to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. There’s a point in the movie where De Niro and his crew ditch the men Pacino had assigned to keep surveillance on them. While the LAPD was listening in, you would see scenes with De Niro plotting this big bank heist. After they lose the detail, you don’t hear any more about it until it actually happens, the next time Pacino and the LAPD are  clued in.

I noticed that I came out of this movie with a better impression of the director, Michael Mann, not unlike how I understood James Cameron more after TRUE LIES last week. I think it’s something to do with the auteur filmmakers – you can’t get a good impression of their movies unless you’ve just seen a bunch of them. Maybe this is something that was very obvious to everyone reading, but I’m on a path of discovery. Join me, and respect my checkpoints along the way.

Favorite Part – The ending scene. It’s lit beautifully, and is shot so well. And you finally get to know who would win in a fight between Scarface and Jimmy Conway.

Best Actor – Natalie Portman. She has a scene in which she very convincingly flops around in a bathroom like a dead fish, and I couldn’t help but yell “NO! DON’T BE DEAD! YOU STILL HAVE TO RUIN STAR WARS IN FOUR YEARS!”

Most Thankful For…– the fact that you never actually see Al Pacino’s titanium stones.

What Date You Should Watch This On – Don’t show your lady friend this one, or at least don’t be around. If she catches half of it on USA or something, sure, maybe she’ll say she liked it because you’ve said you liked it but she didn’t really like it. This is the guy movie for the thinking man.

After Watching This Movie, I… – found out that one of my friends is willingly dating someone who reminds me of the Kevin Gage character in this film, and I decided I didn’t want to think about it anymore because that would make her Kelly Preston and that means she’s eventually going to marry John Travolta.*shiver*

While I was Writing This Article I… – bought a copy of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY on Blu-ray that I cannot imagine myself watching all the way through in one sitting.

Recommend Watching? – Yes, but know that you’re getting in for maybe an hour of kick-ass action and two hours of dialogue and plot. If you want a straightfoward action movie that pretty much never stops to smell the roses, DIE HARD or LETHAL WEAPON is the way to go.

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