Heat (1995)

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Review by Joseph of The Cinema Monster

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Bobby De Niro, is there anyone with a face more recognizable? How about a voice? One so memorable that it’s assisted countless lines of film dialogue into becoming the most quoted and imitated in cinematic history. This is a man who’s performances on screen have literally transcended their fictitious origins to become part of his aura, you know, his personality and reputation. You can’t mention his name without it sending a deathly chill through your bones, as if he was watching you from a far at that very moment, waiting patiently to quietly end your life. But of course, this isn’t the truth. Robert De Niro merely portrays the mafioso lifestyle and nothing more. It just so happens that he does his job so well that the killer, ruthless mentality has followed him, become entangled and melded to his existence. In all honesty though, we wouldn’t have it any other way. It merely adds to his legend and signifies the unfathomably power of his talent and how he has perfected his craft.

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Now, as intimidating as Bobby is, I can only imagine that Tyson’s face resembled something remarkably similar, maybe slightly more sinister when I told him that I hadn’t seen “Heat” and that I wanted to tackle it for this awesome segment. I mean, it is one of the most respected and memorable pieces on De Niro’s resume. Who can blame him right? I’m one of the best bloggers in the biz and I’ve never seen it? Unacceptable! How can that be? How can one even be a film critic having not seen a piece of such caliber and importance? Granted, I originally thought that Tyson, like most of you readers are now, was a little preemptive with this overreacting lividness. That being said, now that I’ve seen this terrific and vastly entertaining flick, I can completely understand, even empathize with your outrage. And just to be clear, I fully support and bless this endeavour. Everyone, ever, should see every piece of De Niro’s work, no matter how schmaltzy (New Years Eve) and repetitive (The Family).

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Okay, so usually I’d delve into the film I’m reviewing head first and intentionally vacate my brain of every thought, question, and opinion, but that’s not what I’m going to do here. This blog-a-thon is specifically centred around Robert De Niro and his greatness, so I will only discuss De Niro’s character and performance. This being said, I’ll provide a little background and information about the film, just to give you all a little perspective and structure. “Heat” is directed by Michael Mann and stars the aforementioned Robert De Niro. It’s an action-thriller following the lives of thieves, murderers, and detectives as they intertwine. Also featured in the cast is the illustrious Al Pacino and Val Kilmer, along with a A-list supporting cast. It was released in 1995 and earned nearly 200 million worldwide, making it a financial success alongside its critical acclaim. I don’t know why I’m telling you this though, I’m sure you’ve all seen it…

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De Niro plays the role of Neil McCauley, a career criminal who, with the help of his cronies, successfully steals a substantial amount of money in bonds from a launderer during a daring armed-vehicle heist. However, when the group’s new recruit shoots down one of the guards, things don’t go according to plan. Now, with a rugged, relentless detective on his tail, McCauley must find a way out of this mess.
Imagine for a moment that the script of “Heat” has just been pitched to you and you’ve been tasked with casting the role of Neil McCauley. Who would your first choice be? Quite simply, for me anyway, knowing De Niro’s background and prowess, he’s the first to pop into my head. It’s just that he so elegantly and infallibly fits the description. Without giving too much away for those who haven’t seen “Heat.” There is a subtle vulnerability and honesty about McCauley that De Niro captures dead on. And I know It’s easy to get caught up in the heartless behaviour and devilish demeanour of De Niro’s roles, believe me it’s no different here. He’s got the integrity and sociopathic tendencies we’ve all come to love. Yet there is this sympathetic yearning for simplicity and humanity in De Niro’s more sly, nightmarish roles that a lot seem not to notice, and it’s very prominent here. While not his go to calling card or the role we most associate with him, De Niro’s performance in “Heat” is without question, one of his best.

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I don’t really know what else to say. This a masterful performance from Bobby with significant depth that you shouldn’t miss out on. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

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47 thoughts on “Heat (1995)

  1. Heat is fantastic, because it is fairly standard in the fact it is cop vs. robber, but Mann cleverly makes the villain (De Niro), the more likeable character, so your morality is constantly shifting, making Heat even more three-dimensional. A masterpiece of a movie. Great review.

  2. Nice write-up Joseph!! I can’t believe you haven’t seen this too. Even I’ve seen this one and I haven’t seen most of the movies this blogathon is producing. Good stuff!

  3. Amazing write up, Joseph! I LOVE Heat. One of (if not the best) Mann’s best films. So epic on many levels. Great job.

  4. Thanks for this Joseph. Excellent work, man, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a fantastic film and DeNiro is on brilliant form here. It looks like he’s not doing very much but he brings a real subtlety and depth to McCauley.

    The comparisons with Pacino were inevitable but I think DeNiro came out better here. Pacino is waaay over the top.

  5. You’ve not seen Heat?? I’m sure you’ve had a lot of that! One of my 10 favourite films and De Niro’s last truly great performance. If you don’t count The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle of course.

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