Heat 2 book review by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner


The 1995 epic of cops and thieves stands as the epic adaptation of neon-loving director Michael Mann, even though it’s halfway through his career. Los Angeles’ panoramic crime opera, was a summary of the 52-year-old author’s work, and not just because it extended the meticulous study of professional criminals that informed Mann’s first two features, “The Jericho Mile” and “A Thief.” Although “Heat” was a deluxe production with a stellar cast that starred Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, it was also a close remake of a TV movie that Mann had shot with no-name actors just six years earlier.

12 New Books to Read in July and August

It turns out that Mann had found a well that was too rich to return to just once. While preparing the 1981 movie “Thief,” Mann hired a retired Chicago cop named Chuck Adamson as a technical advisor. The pair would become close friends, and Adamson’s experiences pursuing and killing a professional thief named Neil McCauley in the 1960s would inspire and kill many of Mann’s later TV and film projects. (De Niro’s character in Heat shares the name of real-life criminal Adamson who was shot three decades ago.) Mann, in turn, helped Adamson launch his screenwriting career. The Adamson-produced, NBC-produced “Crime Story” series, from 1986 to 1988, was set in the 1960s but included scenes and bits of dialogue that Mann would almost literally repeat in Heat.

The film was a success, but it was not popular. Comments were impressed, but not over the moon. Heat has taken time to earn its due: 0 One of the greatest crime movies, one of the greatest Los Angeles movies, one of the group’s greatest movies. Mann has officially produced rich, memorable and bold films since then – “The Insider”, “Ali” and “Collateral” – but he’s never made better.

Subscribe to the Book World newsletter

But still, how strange it is to find Mann redrawing his masterpiece a generation later… as a novel. “Heat 2” – let’s put a few points on this uninspiring title – is like “The Godfather Part Two”, both a prequel and a sequel to the movie. The book opens the day after the movie’s bloody events circa 1995, but quickly returns to 1988, allowing Mann and Edgar Award-winning co-writer Meg Gardiner to bring De Niro’s Neil McCauley back from the dead, and before that until 1996. And 2000. This leap in time enriches the characters but costs the book in terms of speed and tension, which are traditional Mann’s strengths. The 170-minute movie Mann races toward its inevitable but satisfying climax like a bullet. Mann and Gardiner’s 470-page novel unfolds intermittently, capturing narrative enthusiasm sporadically to allow it to dissipate. He’s frustrated.

The character most benefiting from the extended treatment is thief Chris Shearless, the only member of McCauley’s crew to survive the film, with Val Kilmer making a strong impression despite minimal dialogue. Chris spends most of “Heat 2 .” Living in Paraguay with a forged Canadian passport, and working as a muscle for a Taiwanese crime family with a base of operations in Ciudad del Este. Taking everything he witnessed in silence, Chris discovers that even the multimillion-dollar “scores” he used to “take” with his best friend Neil were little fries and that globalization offers unlimited profits – well, theft – The possibility of industrious outlaw. Chris also finds himself falling in love, even as he longs to be reunited with his wife and son he left behind in Los Angeles.

21 books to read this summer

It all sounds fresher than the seasons of 1988, where Neil, Chris, and their crew plot a heist on a Mexican drug cartel. Neil’s Mexican lover Elisa is a partner in their scheme, and Nell is a loving father figure to her young daughter Gabriella. This unconvincing local subplot seems to have been put here to explain the origin of Neil’s “non-attachment” philosophy in HeatThe most famous scene – on coffee, and the policeman who wants to turn him away is no less. (Adamson claims this is unlikely coffee It was extracted directly from his private life). But this was not something that required an explanation. De Niro’s performance provided all the subtext and all the backstory we needed.

What’s even more damaging is the arbitrary character of the device used by Mann and Gardiner to bridge the 1988 and 2000 clips – a housewife socialite and sex offender named Otis Wardle, who crosses swords with both McCauley and Vincent Hannah, Pacino’s neurotic police figure, years before Crossing Swords ( and coffee cups) with each other. Adhering to Mann’s no-waste, don’t-wan-no ethic, Wardle’s sadistic book will be familiar to readers who remember some specific episodes from “Miami Vice,” a pastel-colored cop show in the ’80s Mann produced and then, would you believe, re-released. Turn it into a feature film.

Wardle is a frightening, albeit inconspicuous character, but his role depends entirely on a coincidence that spanned decades and half of the continent. Crooks McCauley, Chris, Policeman Hanna, and evil rapist killer Otis appear All She works in Chicago in the 1980s before moving to Los Angeles in the 1990s. really? The “Heat” is drawn tightly like a Swiss watch, making this lack of follow-through formation difficult to forgive. And the writing, alternately laconic and flowery, isn’t elegant enough to mask dirty storytelling. Mann’s cinema may be poetry, but his prose… well, prose.

Chris Klimeck works for Smithsonian Magazine and co-hosts the podcast A Degree Absolute!

Written by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner

William Morrow. 480 pages $28.99

A note to our readers

We are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliate sites.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: