It’s been two decades since “Heat” came out, and quite frankly there are few other movies from 1995 that people are still talking about. Which, if for some unholy reason you still haven’t seen it, certainly should say enough to get you to sit down with Michael Mann’s seminal crime film. The fact of the matter is that Mann’s film, which pits Robert De Niro and Al Pacino against one another in a deadly game of cat and mouse, is a propulsive, thundering achievement for a genre that can so often feel rote and over worn. The beauty is that “Heat” doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, instead it just does the genre the way it was meant to be done, and in the process it manages to find an honest sort of sympathy for its characters that is so often absent from action films.
Much of this sympathy is born straight from Mann’s excellent, fully-realized script. But it’s certainly bolstered by two excellent, understated turns from the leads. The best example of this being the famous coffee shop scene, which was the first time De Niro and Pacino had ever acted on screen together. It’s a wonder of a scene: quiet, nuanced, gently paced, especially considering that it’s couched in the center of a film with some of the finest, most dynamic action set pieces in memory.
To help highlight just how the transition was made from the page, Vashi Nedomansky has put together “‘Heat’ – Script To Screen,” which focuses solely on the coffee shop scene, pairing each page of the script with the action as it happens. What’s immediately obvious is just how vividly Mann had realized what the scene should be. His notes are copious, highlighting just how integral he knew these six minutes would be to the final film. And, of course, there’s no question that it paid off.
Check out “‘Heat’ – Script To Screen” and weigh in with your thoughts on Mann’s classic in the comments below.