Little needs be said about the luxurious and unprecedented pairing of Pacino and De Niro in 1995's "Heat". Even with a poor script it would have been a treat to see them chase each other round a series of such carefully chosen LA set-pieces. Writer-director Michael Mann has bigger ideas, and he does them justice.
This is the same man who made a lengthy drama about corruption in the tobacco industry compelling stuff ("The Insider") , so one might say that with this cast making a heist movie should be child's play. This would fail to give him due credit for his mastery of pace, as in almost three hours Mann neither bores nor over-exhausts the viewer.
Ostensibly the story of Vincent Hanna (Pacino), a dedicated cop hunting De Niro's ruthlessly efficient thief Neil McCauley, a major theme of the film is the male fear of emotional commitment. When McCauley says, "Never have anything in your life that you can't walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner", the heat in question might just as easily be family as the law. To further complicate things, Hanna's dedication to snaring elusive criminals like McCauley repeatedly destroys his own relationships. Diane Venora here plays his neglected third wife with as much flair as can be mustered in such a marginalized role. Similarly, unexpected love in the shape of Eady (Amy Brenneman) is McCauley's undoing.
Taken altogether, Mann doesn't do anything particularly new, but with a subtly used supporting cast he combines everything into an unusually articulate action thriller.