Heat (1995 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Mann
Produced by Michael Mann
Art Linson
Written by Michael Mann
Music by Elliot Goldenthal
Cinematography Dante Spinotti
Edited by Pasquale Buba
William Goldenberg
Dov Hoenig
Tom Rolf
Regency Enterprises
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s)
  • December 15, 1995 (1995-12-15)
Running time 170 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million
Box office $187,436,818[1]

Heat is a 1995 American action film written, produced and directed by Michael Mann, and starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer. The film was released in the United States on December 15, 1995. De Niro plays Neil McCauley, a professional thief, while Pacino plays Lt. Vincent Hanna, a veteran L.A.P.D. robbery-homicide detective tracking down McCauley's crew. The central conflict is based on the experiences of former Chicago police officer Chuck Adamson and his pursuit in the 1960s of a criminal named McCauley, after whom De Niro's character is named.[2] Heat was a critical and commercial success, grossing $67 million in the United States and $187 million worldwide.[1]


Career criminal Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) and his crew, Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore) and Trejo (Danny Trejo), hire new recruit Waingro (Kevin Gage) and commit an armored car heist, stealing $1.6 million in bearer bonds belonging to money launderer Roger Van Zant (William Fichtner). Waingro impulsively kills one of the guards however, forcing them to kill the remaining two so as to leave no witnesses. An infuriated McCauley tries to kill Waingro afterwards, but he escapes. Afterwards McCauley's fence, Nate (Jon Voight), suggests they try to sell the bonds back to Van Zant, who agrees but secretly instructs his men to kill McCauley at the meeting. With backup from his crew, McCauley thwarts the ambush and vows revenge.

Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) of the LAPD leads the investigation of the heist and learns that McCauley's crew plans to rob a precious metals depository. Hanna and his unit—Sergeant Drucker (Mykelti Williamson) and Detectives Sammy Casals (Wes Studi), Mike Bosko (Ted Levine), and Danny Schwartz (Jerry Trimble), stake out the depository, but when an officer inadvertently makes a noise, McCauley is alerted and calls off the robbery. Despite the police surveillance, McCauley and his crew take on a final heist, a brazen bank holdup worth $12 million, to secure their financial futures. Hanna's unit investigates the murder of a prostitute by Waingro, putting them on his trail. Waingro later approaches Van Zant in search of work and revenge against McCauley.

Hanna learns that his wife Justine (Diane Venora) is having an affair and moves into a hotel, while McCauley finds a relationship with Eady (Amy Brenneman), a woman he meets in a cafe. Hanna deliberately intercepts McCauley and invites him to coffee. Meeting face to face, each concedes to the other the problems of his personal life. Hanna describes his concern for his depressed stepdaughter Lauren (Natalie Portman) and the failure of his third marriage due to his obsession with work, and McCauley confesses that life as a criminal forbids attachment and requires mobility, making his relationship with his girlfriend tenuous. Both men admit their commitment to their work and that they will not hesitate to kill the other if the circumstances demand it.

Hanna discovers that McCauley and his crew have evaded their surveillance, but Trejo is compromised. In need of a new getaway driver, McCauley recruits Donald Breedan (Dennis Haysbert), an ex-convict working a dead-end job at a diner. Hanna's unit is alerted to the robbery by a confidential informant and surprises McCauley's crew as they exit the bank. Cheritto, Breedan, and several police officers, including Detective Bosko, are killed in the ensuing shootout. McCauley narrowly escapes with an injured Shiherlis, and leaves him with a doctor to treat his wounds. He tracks down Trejo, whom he finds beaten to a bloody pulp with his wife murdered. Trejo reveals that Waingro was the informant, with Van Zant assisting him. McCauley finishes off Trejo at his own request, then kills Van Zant at his home. He makes plans to flee to New Zealand with Eady, with whom he has reconciled after she became aware of his criminal activities. The police surveil Waingro in a hotel near Los Angeles International Airport, and Hanna attempts to bait McCauley into coming out of hiding by releasing Waingro's whereabouts through his contacts.

Shiherlis' estranged wife Charlene (Ashley Judd) is lured by her lover Alan Marciano (Hank Azaria) to a police safe house, where Drucker threatens to charge Charlene as an accomplice and send her son into foster care if she doesn't betray her husband to the police. Charlene initially agrees, but, when Shiherlis shows up in disguise, she surreptitiously warns him, and he slips through the dragnet. Hanna finds Lauren unconscious in his hotel room from a suicide attempt and rushes her to the hospital. As he and Justine wait in the lobby, they commiserate but admit their marriage will never work. McCauley and Eady are en route to the airport when Nate calls with Waingro's location. McCauley has a change of heart, risking his assured freedom to exact his revenge. He infiltrates the hotel, creates a distraction by pulling a fire alarm, and kills Waingro. Moments away from escape, he is forced to abandon Eady when Hanna approaches through the crowd. Hanna chases McCauley into a field outside the LAX freight terminal and mortally wounds him, before holding McCauley's hand as he dies.



The film is based on Detective Chuck Adamson's pursuit of serial criminal Neil McCauley in the 1960s.[3][4] According to the featurettes Pacino, DeNiro and the Conversation and The Making of Heat: True Crime, included in the special-edition DVD, which includes a taped interview with Adamson, the scene of McCauley and Hanna in the restaurant was also based on a real event. Adamson met the real McCauley in a coffee shop and openly discussed the possible course of future events. The scene in which McCauley abandons the precious-metal heist after hearing a noise was also based on a real event: McCauley abandoned the robbery after one of Adamson's officers, positioned on the top floor of a building McCauley and his crew were breaking into, broke protocol to go to the toilet. McCauley heard, and withdrew.[5]

Heat is essentially an elaborate remake of the 1989 TV film L.A. Takedown, also directed by Mann.[6] Notwithstanding an added subplot involving the Van Zant character, the parallel with the earlier movie is striking, in the details of its plot, in its dialogue, and even in the notes of its musical score.

Release and reception

Box office

Heat was released on December 15, 1995 and opened #3 in the box office with $8,445,656 opening weekend in 1,325 theaters (behind Jumanji and Toy Story respectively).[7] It grossed $67,436,818 in United States box offices, and $120,000,000 in foreign box offices.[8] Heat was ranked the #25 highest-grossing film of 1995.[8]


Heat was well received by critics. The film-critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports 86% positive reviews based on 59 reviews,[9] while Metacritic gives a score of 76 based on 22 reviews.[10] Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ stars out of 4, writing: "It's not just an action picture. Above all, the dialogue is complex enough to allow the characters to say what they're thinking: They are eloquent, insightful, fanciful, poetic when necessary. They're not trapped with cliches. Of the many imprisonments possible in our world, one of the worst must be to be inarticulate — to be unable to tell another person what you really feel."[11] Simon Cote of The Austin Chronicle called the film "One of the most intelligent crime-thrillers to come along in years", and said Pacino and De Niro's scenes together were "poignant and gripping".[12]

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called the film a "sleek, accomplished piece of work, meticulously controlled and completely involving. The dark end of the street doesn't get much more inviting than this."[13] Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote, "Stunningly made and incisively acted by a large and terrific cast, Michael Mann's ambitious study of the relativity of good and evil stands apart from other films of its type by virtue of its extraordinarily rich characterizations and its thoughtful, deeply melancholy take on modern life."[14]

American Film Institute


The explicit nature of several of the film's scenes was cited as the model of a spate of robberies since its release. This included armored car robberies in South Africa, Colombia, Denmark, and Norway,[16][17][18] and most famously the 1997 North Hollywood Shootout, in which Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu robbed the North Hollywood branch of the Bank of America and, similarly to the film, were confronted by the LAPD as they left the bank. This shootout is considered one of the longest and bloodiest events of its type in American police history.[19][20] Both robbers were killed, and eleven police officers and seven civilians were injured during the shootout.

For his film The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan drew inspiration in his portrayal of Gotham City from Heat in order "to tell a very large, city story or the story of a city".[21]

Home media

Heat was released on VHS in June 1996.[22] Due to its running time, the film had to be released on two cassettes.[23]

Heat was released on DVD in 1999.[citation needed] A two-disc special-edition DVD was released in 2005, featuring an audio commentary by Michael Mann, deleted scenes, and numerous documentaries detailing the film's production.[citation needed]

The Blu-ray Disc was released on November 10, 2009, featuring a high-definition film transfer, supervised by Mann.[24] As well as approving the look of the transfer, Mann also recut two scenes slightly differently, referring to them as "new content changes".[25] The special-edition DVD is the original theatrical cut.[26]


Main article: Heat (soundtrack)


  1. ^ a b "Heat (1985)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved 16 August 2010. 
  2. ^ George M. Thomas (27 February 2005). "He's a Goofy Goober; 'Heat'". Akron Beacon Journal. 
  3. ^ "Heat". Tcm.com. Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  4. ^ "Reviews: Heat: Two-Disc Special Edition". The DVD Journal. Retrieved 2012-05-26. 
  5. ^ Commentary by Michael Mann on Heat Two-Disc Special Edition DVD.
  6. ^ "Remakes That Worked". Empire. Retrieved 2014-06-13. 
  7. ^ "Heat (1995)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Heat (1995)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Heat (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  10. ^ "Heat (1995): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  11. ^ "Heat :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  12. ^ "Heat". The Austin Chronicle. September 22, 1997. Retrieved 2013-04-27. 
  13. ^ "Critic Reviews for Heat". Retrieved 2013-04-27. 
  14. ^ McCarthy, Todd (December 5, 1995). "Review: Heat". Variety. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  15. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Nominees
  16. ^ "Just Blame The Heat". Free.financialmail.co.za. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  17. ^ McDermott, Jeremy (2003-08-05). "Life imitates art in Colombia robbery". BBC News. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  18. ^ "The big coup". Translate.google.com. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  19. ^ Cynthia Fuchs (2003-06-01). "44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shootout". PopMatters. Retrieved 2007-09-29. "The legal and cultural fallout of the crime had to do with just how much firepower the cops should be carrying, if outlaws find it so easy to purchase AK-47s at gun shows."
  20. ^ "Botched L.A. bank heist turns into bloody shootout". CNN. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
  21. ^ Stax (December 6, 2007). "IGN interviews Christopher Nolan". IGN Movies (Ziff Davis). Retrieved June 3, 2008. 
  22. ^ Tuckman, Jeff (June 21, 1996). "Pacino and De Niro shoot up the screen in explosive 'Heat' On video". Daily Herald. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  23. ^ Nichols, Peter M. (April 19, 1996). "Home Video". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 May 2010. 
  24. ^ "Heat Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  25. ^ "'Heat' Home Theater Forum Blu-ray review". 
  26. ^ "'Heat' Rewind DVD comparison". 

External links