My favorite aspect of HEAT is without a doubt the wonderful contrast of characters presented by Mann. On one hand we have the pissed-off and loud detective who is way too into his job, and on the other we have a calm and relaxed criminal who has no attachment to anyone or anything. Mann explores both sides of these men, bringing out the family problems of Pacino’s character, and delving into De Niro’s character’s issues with his lifestyle. Mann lets us choose whom to root for by ourselves, and doesn’t interfere by making either of them look better than the other. What’s funny about this though is that the characters don’t even meet until over half way through the film. That in itself makes their two scenes together that much more powerful.
Patience isn’t the only thing you need while watching this movie; you also have to pay very close attention. In a film like this, details matter (such as names, people, and ideas), which brings us back to another important issue. Three hours of paying close attention to everything going on gets pretty tedious, so you might want to take a break from it all. If you start to get confused near the beginning, I suggest you try to figure it out then and there, because if you just keep watching, you’ll get even more confused. Aside from the length, there really isn’t much to complain about. It’s a terrific crime movie with a perfect blend of powerful drama and extreme action.
Disc 1: Commentary (by Mann): Not the most engaging commentary I’ve heard, but does shine some light on ideas. If certain scenes confused you, be sure to check this out because Mann explains a lot.
We also get 3 Theatrical Trailers.
Deleted Scenes (11 of them): Somewhat interesting, but doesn’t cover much new ground unexplored in the film. Still, check them out.
3 Making-of Documentaries (58:20): They are True Crime, Crime Stories, and Into the Fire (all of them show plenty of interview footage and film clips). True Crime explores the true story HEAT was inspired by. It’s informative, but not that exciting. Crime Stories is about the history of the screenplay and how the movie finally got into production. I learned some cool things from it, so I’d say it’s worth watching. Into the Fire involves the production and post-production of the movie; one of the more interesting featurettes in this set.
Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation (9:24): No, this isn’t Pacino and De Niro having a conversation together (though that might have been much more interesting), but rather a discussion of one of the movie’s scenes. Feels boring and superficial, and doesn’t teach much.
Return to the Scene of the Crime (12:03): This featurette revisits scenes filmed in HEAT. If the other making-of documentaries were your bag, then this should be too. I didn’t find it too special, but not bad.
That aside, there are loads of scenes and characters that fuse into your memory long after the movie finishes, serving as a constant reminder of just how much HEAT kicks ass. Mann sets up stories for all of his characters, bringing a sense of reality to the picture. As you can imagine, emotions run high when unfortunate circumstances strike some of these characters. This is the perfect movie to purchase, mainly because there’s no way you can understand all sides with just one viewing. If you aren’t the patient type, then try renting first. But for any devoted fan of De Niro, Pacino, or Mann, this movie is a must own.