Heat Information

Heat is a 1995 American crime film written and directed by Michael Mann. It stars Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Val Kilmer. De Niro plays Neil McCauley, a professional thief, while Pacino plays Lt. Vincent Hanna, veteran L.A.P.D. 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.

The film is technically a remake of L.A. Takedown, a 1989 made-for-television film which was also written and directed by Mann; the director had been trying to get Heat made for over a decade, and created L.A Takedown as a simplified version after his efforts were unsuccessful. Heat was a critical and commercial success, grossing $67 million in the United States and $187 million worldwide.


Career criminal Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) and his crew"?Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore), Trejo (Danny Trejo), and new member Waingro (Kevin Gage)"?conduct an armored car heist, stealing $1.6 million in bearer bonds from money launderer Roger Van Zant (William Fichtner). During the heist, Waingro impulsively kills one of the guards, forcing the crew to kill the remaining two guards to make sure there are no witnesses. An infuriated McCauley tries to kill Waingro afterwards, but he escapes. McCauley's fence Nate (Jon Voight) sets up a meeting with Van Zant to sell the bonds back. Van Zant ostensibly agrees but instructs his men to kill McCauley as a warning to other thieves. With backup from his crew, McCauley thwarts the ambush and vows revenge.

Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) of the L.A.P.D. Robbery-Homicide Division leads the investigation of the heist and learns McCauley's crew plans to rob a precious metals depository next. Hanna and his unit stake out the depository, but when an officer inadvertently makes a noise, McCauley is alerted, and the crew abandons the robbery. Despite the police surveillance, McCauley and his crew decide to proceed with a bank holdup with an estimated $12 million payoff. Waingro is revealed to be a serial killer of prostitutes, with his latest victim falling under Hanna's jurisdiction. Hanna discovers that his wife Justine (Diane Venora) is having an affair and moves to a hotel, and McCauley catches Charlene Shiherlis (Ashley Judd) cheating on Chris with Alan Marciano (Hank Azaria), a Las Vegas liquor salesman with a criminal past.

Hanna deliberately intercepts McCauley during a surveillance operation and invites him to coffee, where he concedes the problems of his personal life; his concern for his depressed stepdaughter Lauren (Natalie Portman) and the failure of his third marriage due to his obsession with work. Likewise, McCauley confesses that life as a criminal forbids attachments and stresses mobility, making his relationship with his girlfriend Eady (Amy Brenneman) tenuous. Having met face to face, Hanna and McCauley share a mutual respect but readily admit that neither will hesitate to kill the other if the circumstances demand it.

Trejo is compromised just hours before the bank robbery. In need of a new getaway driver, McCauley recruits Donald Breeden (Dennis Haysbert), an ex-convict working a dead-end job as a short order cook. Hanna's unit is alerted to the robbery by a confidential informant and surprises McCauley's crew as they exit the bank. Cherrito, Breeden, and several police officers, including Detective Mike Bosko (Ted Levine), are killed in the ensuing shootout. McCauley narrowly escapes with an injured Shiherlis, who had been shot in the shoulder by Detective Sammy Cassals (Wes Studi), and leaves him with a doctor (Jeremy Piven) to treat his wounds. He tracks down Trejo, whom he finds at his home beaten to a bloody pulp. Trejo admits that Van Zant's men called in the tip on the robbery from information Waingro provided. McCauley finishes off Trejo at his own request, then hunts down and kills Van Zant. He makes new arrangements to flee to New Zealand with Eady, who is now fully 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 to the network of bookies, bail bondsmen, and snitches he hopes will spread the word.

Shiherlis's wife Charlene leaves him and goes with Marciano to a police safe house, where Sergeant Drucker (Mykelti Williamson) threatens to charge her as an accomplice and to send her son to a foster home if she doesn't betray her husband to the police. Charlene initially agrees, but, when Shiherlis shows up in disguise, she surreptitiously warns him about the police presence, 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 for the news of her recovery, they admit their marriage will never work. McCauley and Eady are en route to the airport when Nate calls with Waingro's location, and the temptation proves to be too much for the normally disciplined McCauley, who risks his assured freedom by detouring to exact his revenge. McCauley infiltrates the hotel, creates a distraction by pulling a fire alarm, and kills Waingro. Moments away from escape, he's forced to abandon Eady when he sees Hanna approaching in the crowd. Hanna chases McCauley into a field outside the LAX freight terminal, and mortally wounds him. He then holds McCauley's hand as he dies.



Heat was well received by critics, earning an 86% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 76 on Metacritic. Roger Ebert gave the film 3 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."

Heat was listed as the 38th greatest film in history in Empires 2008 list of the "500 Greatest Movies of All Time".

American Film Institute Lists

  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills "? Nominated
  • AFI's 10 Top 10 "? Nominated Gangster Film


The film is based on Detective Chuck Adamson's pursuit of serial criminal Neil McCauley in the 1960s. 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 life 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 score 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.


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. 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".

Home media

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

A "bare bones" edition of Heat was released on DVD in 1999, which didn't include any extra features. 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.

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

See also

  • Heat soundtrack

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