Length: 170 minutes / 2.83 hours
It’s interesting to go back and watch something by Michael Mann after seeing his later work. I enjoyed Collateral (2004) and considered it to be a well-directed film. Of course, there’s deliberate pacing and acceleration of Collateral that drew me in. Unfortunately, this biased me somewhat when I sat down to watch Heat (1995). Stylistically, both are fairly similar and use similar locales. However, at almost three hours long, some of the pacing in Heat made me think that it could have used a bit of a trim in the first half.
I understand the deliberate nature of the buildup of the first half, with each event introducing some core tenet of the main characters that come to fruition by the end of the film. It helps that there’s a good bit of action early on, but until the twist that happens about half-way through occurs, the comparison to the pacing of the second half makes the early part of this movie feel like molasses. Heck, I’d probably just show the action scene that starts the film, then jump to the twist and have the rest proceed as normal. That way I’d trim the running time down by a good 30-45 minutes and tighten the pacing.
Fortunately, with actors like Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino (with perhaps one of the best lines he’s ever yelled residing in this film), Heat is a great action film with huge payoff. The shootout mid-way through the film is perhaps one of the best I’ve ever seen committed to film. Additionally, the ending is a tour-de-force that pulls the trigger on all the little bits of foreshadowing to create a satisfying conclusion by the time the credits inevitably roll. Maybe Heat is no Collateral, but it’s certainly worth the time to watch, regardless.
An excellent 2-hour action film set within a nearly 3-hour movie, I give Heat 4.0 stars out of 5.