As I had hoped, Mann stays true to his stylistic flair here, carrying on from Thief, composing the film of countless visually striking shots and never failing to take up an opportunity to communicate visually through the use of colour, suggestive, beautiful lighting and clever shot composition.
As was the case with Thief, through his visual style, he is able to ground his films whilst also keeping them detached from reality somewhat, seemingly occupying their own distinct world that doesn’t stop and start when we press play – as well as this, through the cinematography, the film almost perpetually establishes that it is a Los Angeles story, with almost every single shot feeling personal to LA and thus allowing you to become submerged in the film’s world so much easier.
Anyone would have expected a powerhouse pairing of De Niro and Pacino to result in something fantastic, and that is just what Heat delivers, putting both characters front and centre, always assuring that this film is first and foremost a character-driven one, exploring the unspoken bond between the two in each of their relationships between their work and their personal lives, and how one intrudes on the other and vice versa, allowing for many genuinely powerful emotional moments that feel right at home amongst the high-intensity action sequences.
One thing I found Mann struggled with in Thief was the pacing, but in Heat, he makes up for it, and then some, almost perfectly pacing each scene, balancing everything so brilliantly, that I barely felt the sizeable runtime which almost reaches 3 hours – in order to do this, he creates a tight yet expansive world full of complex, compelling characters, that collectively more than justify the length of the film.
Heat is a film that has so much going for it, that it would be almost impossible to not love it to a certain degree, bringing together fantastic performances, excellent, occasionally even poetic writing, strong visual flair, powerful direction, all set within a genuinely compelling, story, which is more interested in its characters than it is in its pulse-pounding action, and it’s all the better for it.