The second part to last week’s Top 5 Michael Mann films is here. Now everyone may not agree on my top 5, but it is hard to make it a top 7 or 8. Especially when writing about Michael Mann’s films! Here are the final 3…
Starring arguably two of the most talented dramatic actors in cinematic history, Heat shows Al Pacino and Robert De Niro at their finest and on screen together for the first time. The film is your classic ‘heist’ scenario in which Vincent Hanna (Pacino) is determined to catch a serial robber Neil McCauley (De Niro).
As the villain, McCauley isn’t your over-the-top bad guy rubbing his hands together, planning his next diabolical move. He is a complex character, as are a lot of the characters in the film who have back stories and therefore are antagonists with motives and emotions.
Mann effortlessly and effectively entertains the audience…
The film includes enigmatic performances from Val Kilmer and Jon Voight who only add to the quality and weight of the film. Thought of by many as Mann’s masterpiece, Heat is over two hours long, but never feels drawn out as within the first ten minutes of the film you are invested in both the storyline and its characters.
One of the most fascinating scenes is when McCauley and Hanna meet in a diner. The tension between the two is palpable and Mann is able to create this through filming the two heavyweights test each other’s mental strength, with an exciting exchange of words. Mann effortlessly and effectively entertains the audience with sharp dialogue, interesting characters and great action sequences throughout.
Public Enemies is Michael Mann’s most recent film and it is based on the life and demise of the notorious American bank robber John Dillinger. Johnny Depp stars as the criminal, who, during the Great Depression, is aided by his associates in robbing numerous banks while eluding the law for some time.
As in many of Mann’s other films, Dillinger is not a two dimensional bad guy and his softer side is shown when he falls for Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard). With the newly formed FBI and lead officer Agent Purvis (Christian Bale) on his tale, Dillinger struggles to escape his life as a criminal and the likelihood of him living a new life with his new found love is looking less and less likely as the film progresses.
…in typical Michael Mann style, the film ends on a cold and somewhat sombre note.
Mann portrays exactly happened the night of Dillinger’s death successfully. His last moments are shown during the films intense conclusion and those familiar with the life of Dillinger know how it ends. Mann does not hold back in portraying the quick and shocking way in which he was killed and again in typical Michael Mann style, the film ends on a cold and somewhat sombre note.
The Last of the Mohicans
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe, Mann directs this 1992 epic set in colonial America during the French and Indian war. Adapted from James Fenimore Cooper’s novel of the same name, Day-Lewis plays Nathanial Hawkeye who was adopted by the Mohican tribe. Unlike the other films chosen in this Top 5, this film is quite the departure for Mann who usually works best with crime based narratives set in cities, yet it still holds all the familiar traits that make it a Mann film.
With the fighting continuing between the French and the Indians for land, there are also other aspects to the film including a love story between Hawkeye and Cora Munro (Stowe), as well as a vendetta between Munro’s family and Magua (Wes Studi) that ultimately leads to the film’s final confrontation.
…a thrilling and authentic experience…
Many have argued whether or not the violence in this film is gratuitous and if the films storyline is accurate when depicting the colonial war and the beginnings of what we now know as the USA. This is not essential as what needs to be noted is that with each film he makes, Mann not only tries to create a thrilling and authentic experience for the audience, but most of all an entertaining one.
Images courtesy of Heat, Public Enemies and The Last of the Mohicans