“Heat” is a 1995 American crime action film/neo-noir written and directed by Michael Mann. It features an ensemble cast led by Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Set in Los Angeles, California, it depicts a fatal fight between an LAPD detective and a professional robber. It is a remake of the TV film “L.A. Takedown” (1989) by Michael Mann. 170 minutes.
Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) is a former Marine and career criminal who is based in Los Angeles and specializes in robbing banks and armored cars.
He and his crew – demolition/construction expert Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), electronics and communications expert Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore), getaway driver Trejo (Danny Trejo), and newly hired hand Waingro (Kevin Gage) – rob $1.6 million in bearer bonds from an armored car. During the heist, Waingro shoots a guard dead by mistake. McCauley is forced to kill other guards to not leave any witnesses. McCauley tries to kill Waingro, but Waingro escapes.
LAPD Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and his team start an investigation into the robbery. They monitor Cheritto, and find out that McCauley is the leader of the robbers.
Hanna lives with his third wife Justine (Diane Venora) and stepdaughter Lauren (Natalie Portman), but their marriage is going to break up, and Lauren is mentally unstable because he is obsessed with working and he neglects his family.
As a professional criminal, McCauley lives alone without family so that he can run away at any time.
McCauley gets to know Eady (Amy Brenneman), a young woman who works as a bookstore clerk by day, and works as a graphic designer by night. McCauley and Eady fall in love with each other.
McCauley decides to go to live in New Zealand with Eady after his last big job as a robber.
McCauley is going to sell the stolen bonds back to their original owner Roger Van Zant (William Fichtner), who is a money launderer for drug cartels. Van Zant tries to make his hitmen ambush and kill McCauley, but McCauley and his gang notice the trap and kill the hitmen.
When McCauley and his gang are going to break into a precious metals depository, Hanna tries to arrest McCauley on the spot, but he fails because McCauley finds himself being monitored and he escapes.
McCauley plans a bank robbery worth $12.2 million.
To talk directly with McCauley, Hanna invites McCauley to coffee. At a coffee shop, they discuss their jobs and lives. Though they feel sympathy with each other strangely, they give notice that they will kill the other without hesitation if necessary.
Van Zant hires Waingro as a hitman to kill McCauley.
On the day of the bank robbery, McCauley recruits Donald Breedan (Dennis Haysbert), who was his fellow prisoner at the Folsom Prison and works at a diner now, as the getaway driver in place of Trejo because Trejo calls to say that the LAPD hounds him and he cannot shake off them.
McCauley and his gang raid the Far East National Bank, and take money from the bank. The LAPD rushes to the scene because they receive an anonymous report of the bank robbery.
After fighting a fierce gun battle against the LAPD on the street, McCauley manages to escape from the police line with wounded Shiherlis. Breedan and several officers are killed in the shoot-out. Cheritto is shot dead by Hanna.
McCauley finds Trejo mortally wounded and his wife killed at Trejo’s house. McCauley is told by Trejo that Waingro found out about the bank robbery from Trejo, taking Trejo’s wife hostage, and tipped police about it, and the mastermind is Van Zant. Trejo asks McCauley to kill him, and McCauley kills Trejo with a gunshot to the head.
McCauley breaks into Van Zant’s mansion and shoots him dead.
To lure and arrest McCauley, Hanna releases information that Waingro is hiding out at the hotel of the Los Angeles International Airport.
To flee the country, McCauley drives to the airport with Eady. McCauley infiltrates the hotel, activates the fire alarm, bursts into Waingro’s room and shoots him dead.
Hanna pursues and corners McCauley at the tarmac of the airport, and a one-on-one battle between Hanna and McCauley begins.
The screenplay of “Heat” is based on the real story of TV producer and screenwriter Chuck Adamson, who tracked down Neil McCauley, a criminal and ex-Alcatraz inmate in 1964, when he was a detective of the Chicago Police.
The best highlight of the film is the realistic shoot-out sequence like an urban warfare, which was actually shot on location on the streets of Los Angeles.
Film director Christopher Nolan said that he drew inspiration in his portrayal of Gotham City in his film “The Dark Knight” (2008) from “Heat”.
“The Guardian” ranked “Heat” number 22 on its list of “The Greatest Crime Films of All Time” in 2010.