Heat was based on true events and Al Pacino’s character Detective Hanna was based on the technical adviser Detective Chuck Adamson, a Chicago officer who’s experience was the basis of the film. There was a real “relationship” between Adamson and the real criminal, Neil McCauley, portrayed by De Niro’s.
The story was way too ambitious and too large for a film, even a three hour film. Today this would have been a miniseries on a streaming service. Frankly, if this film was remade and told in ten or 12 hours instead of three, it would probably be much better.
People think it’s great because of the iconic shootout scene, because top-notch actors are in it, and because they are told it’s a great film. Just look at how many people get butthurt in the comments without any additional comments. It’s just another mid-90s action film that doesn’t hold up, the same way that John Ford westerns have that insincere feeling.
Al Pacino plays Al Pacino, the same character from all his movies. Yes, his acting is great. That’s why he’s a great actor. However, he plays a shitty detective character with very low realism. He's a New Yorker and New Yorkers don’t make good LA characters. He’s not a realistic LAPD detective. Since I actually know real detectives from the LA area, this bugs the crap out of me. Same thing goes for Harvey Keitel. They aren’t LA cops, they’re just another character playing a part on the screen.
But that’s me and my obsession with verisimilitude interfering with my suspension of disbelief, right? I’ll admit most filmgoers and filmmakers can’t tell the difference or care much if they can, but it should damn well matter especially since so effort was placed on correct gunplay. Gun guys love the shootout scene because it’s so realistic, right? So why can’t the actors get the characters right?
This movie is mostly about visuals. “The city of Los Angeles itself was a character.” Oh, you mean cinematography. In other words, there were some good camera shots. Okay, but that doesn’t come close to redeeming it as a “great” film. It’s a piece of theater in which good actors do their thing and some cool stuff happens.
My main issue is that the screenplay is all over the place. Too many stories are being told in too little time. Yes, the B-E subplots all do add depth to characters and the story but they didn’t have enough screen time to be told well and stole time from the real story. The relationship issues didn’t need to be explored in depth; a little bit of exposition would have been fine. What does a step-daughter’s suicide attempt have to do with a heist movie? I didn’t watch this movie to see a ‘90s neo-noir romance subplot or because of the character’s feelings.
The subplots and myriad characters were just confusing. Too many unanswered questions exist with the other characters. What happens to Waingro when he’s off camera? Why did the serial killer subplot have a bit part? Don Breedan’s character and struggle were interesting and could have been a movie in and of itself but instead it’s just a tease.
It feels like The Sopranos watered down for an hour spot on Fox instead of HBO. Michael Mann did a much better job in Collateral which had a better dark tone and pacing. Had he kept the story between Hanna and McCauley, it would have been better.
Oh, and much of the dialogue sucked ass. Hanna’s wife’s parts were lame. Amy Brenneman’s character was just garbage and a real criminal like McCauley shoulda got bored and walked off as soon as she wouldn’t shut her mouth. I swear, I never felt the ‘90s more than when Amy Brenneman came on screen. Remember how it’s like nearly every brunette in the ‘90s had that same vibe and aesthetic that she had?
Anyhow, Heat is overrated and if you like it just because of the cool gun scenes, admit that.
Sheriff Jim Fryhoff has started his term today. These are the highlights from his first email to the department. In 2013, I predicted he would be the next sheriff. Well, I was off by a term but here he is.
The sheriff and the executive staff will be in the jails and field during daily operations to “check in” with deputies, not to “check on” them, as Fryhoff wanted to highlight. Under Sheriff Brooks, I rarely saw anyone above captain in the field, and the only Chief Deputy (now Assistant Sheriff) I saw in the field with any regularity was Geoff Dean (Car 5). Dean later became sheriff.
Cowboy hats are now authorized in the following authorized styles:
Straw (warm weather)
Felt (cold weather)
Fryhoff encourages them to be used as conversation starters with the public. No word on campaign hats, which were the officially authorized Class B cover. Ballcaps in “inclement” weather only. Literally a handful of people outside the academy wear them, like four deputies and a couple cadets. Okay, more than that but you very rarely see any Ventura County smokies.
He’s also announcing a plan for better recruitment and retention. The new motto is “Be safe and do the right thing.”
All in all it’s a positive and welcome message. Jim is a great guy, very friendly and personable. Under the last sheriff, employee morale sagged. The nitpicking of little things like detectives not wearing ties (IIRC) was an example of some of the pettiness. Happy cops make good cops and Ventura County deputies literally are some of the finest peace officers in the world. Making VCSO a crappy place to work hurts hiring and retention which creates a poorer pool of cops for the public and hiring is hard enough.
While both he and Ayub are good cops and looked out for the public, I had to support the guy who was more behind the line staff. My only concern is that Fryhoff’s appreciation for community policing doesn’t turn into an attitude that is soft on crime. I don’t think so, but you can trust the tough looking guy to be a hardass if nothing else. All in all, I think the public is in very good hands and is being represented by a guy who has the public good at heart.
Note: this an adaptation from my non-fiction book Suburban Warfare: A cop's guide to surviving a civil war, SHTF, or modern urban combat, available on Amazon.