In an action-packed summer lit up with special effects and
nonstop thrills, "Heat" comes across as a slow burn. The
setup is familiar: Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) is a
workaholic detective assigned to track down professional
crook Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro).
But instead of finding ways to get the stars into big
stunts, writer-director Michael Mann is more concerned
with the intricacies of playing cops 'n' robbers. Clocking
in at about three hours, "Heat" takes its sweet time,
exploring each of the lead's personal relationships. Both
are a step out of place doing anything but their jobs.
Hanna is about to ruin yet another relationship. McCauley
is stumbling into love for the first time with a bookstore
clerk (Amy Brenneman). Mann is so resistant to making
another chase movie, that the two leads meet only twice,
once in a diner for a brilliantly choreographed chat, the
other in a final shootout that's deliberately unspectacular.
Mann has assembled a top-notch ensemble cast,
including Val Kilmer as a criminal with a severe gambling
problem. The women, in particular, are strong. Ashley
Judd, as Kilmer's neglected girlfriend, builds on her
impressive resume. The final shot of Brenneman
watching as De Niro slips away in a crowd and out of her
life is one of the most memorable of 1995.
Don't be intimidated by the length and slow pace. "Heat"
cooks at its own, rewarding speed. (Four out of a possible
five stars) -Neal Justin