Heat is the film that commanded me to make movies. I saw it with Chris Kish in Louisville, Colorado, in 1996. It changed me forever. I’ve watched this scene hundreds of times in my life, studying it to see what makes it tick, to make sure that I’ll make something like it someday. Of course, it’s power comes from the nearly three hours that have led up to this point. Just before this final scene, the main “bad guy,” Robert DeNiro’s Neil McCauley, has escaped with his dream girl and has every opportunity to flee and ride off into the sunset, but when he catches wind of one last chance to settle a score with Kevin Gage’s Waingro, a double-crossing animal of a criminal, who severely tainted a score in the first act and who tried to have Neil killed in the beginning of the film, Neil cannot resist and turns away from the escape path. Bad move for him, great for Vincent Hanna, the Al Pacino character who has finally caught up to him. We care for Neil because he follows a code in his world. He is a sociopath, but we still hope he gets away because he has worked so hard and has been through so much to get to this point. Fortunately, director Michael Mann snaps us out of it: ya can’t rob banks, even if it’s your profession. And so this scene is the inevitable conclusion to this world. Neil must be stopped and though he was a criminal, he deserves a compassionate witness to his death, even if that witness is the cop who brought him down.
Watch how Vincent looks off into the distance, wondering how in the world he got there, in the middle of this bizarre, blinking, future field. And Moby’s God Moving Over the Face of the Waters is the final flourish that grants the picture epic status.
I don’t know if the power comes from the 3 hours before it. I just watched it 8 times in a row and got goosebumps every time. I know whats coming. I know every shot, line and musical cue, but the goosebumps and chills come everytime. Somewhere between when he takes his hand and “A Micheal Mann Film. Everytime sometimes even with a bit of moist eyes.. Still can’t figure out why
Peter, Thanks for your comment on my blog. I appreciate your feelings for “Heat”. Great stuff, right? Movies like that are rare. “Drive” is a recent good one. Go check that one out.
Great ending!!! This is the best crime movie ever made!!! My favorite scene is the restaurant conversation between Pacino and De Niro!!! Absolute Masterpiece!!!
I genuinely came across this, because I searched for the photograph above itself. I need to have this framed on my wall. I’ve seen this so many times and as I get older and appreciate the art of filmmaking more, I’ve come to realize how gifted Michael Mann is. This movie is genuinely as good as any Scorcese movie and that’s coming from someone who counts Raging Bull and Mean Streets as his two favorite movies. “I told you I was never going back…” It gets me every time.