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Archive for January 28th, 2020

By J.D. Lafrance

“Don’t keep anything in your life you’re not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.” – Neil McCauley

“All I am is what I’m going after.” – Vincent Hanna

For his entire career Michael Mann has been obsessed with cops and criminals and the place where their lives intersect. He began to explore it in earnest with Thief (1981) by putting an emphasis on the criminal element. With Manhunter (1986), he shifted the focus to the law enforcement side. Fifteen years in the making, Heat (1996) was an epic culmination of his fascination with both sides of the law. In some respects, the film took the obsessive profiler from Manhunter and put him up against the no-nonsense expert safecracker from Thief while also examining how their cat and mouse game, through the streets of Los Angeles, affected those around them.

Mann parlayed the commercial and critical success of The Last of the Mohicans (1992) to cast two of the most well-respected American actors – Robert De Niro and Al Pacino – as the crook and the cop respectively, ramping up anticipation as it would be the first time these acting heavyweights would to appear together on-screen. They did not disappoint, delivering iconic performances as two driven men at the pinnacle of their professions, respecting each other’s skill but also acutely aware that if it came down to it one of them would probably die at the hands of the other.

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