Under the Radar

Home Video: 'Heat - Definitive Director's Edition'

Director Michael Mann has supervised a new 4K transfer of Heat and it's out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD in a Director's Definitive Edition. The 1995 crime thriller stars Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer and features the first-ever scene that Pacino and De Niro ever played together onscreen.


Mann's movies are known for their moody lighting and often muddy sound mixes. This new version looks spectacular, far better than it did in theaters back in the day and it represents a significant upgrade from every previous home video release. Even more surprising, the new audio mix keeps the moodiness that Mann wants but delivers new clarity that significantly improves the film.

De Niro is Neil McCauley, a professional thief who runs a fearless crew in the streets of Los Angeles. Pacino is Lt. Vincent Hanna, an obsessive LAPD robbery homicide detective who's determined to bring McCauley down. Over the course of three hours, the two circle each other as the crew plans a downtown L.A. bank heist. A tipoff leads the cops to the scene and there's a brutal shootout that eerily predicts a similar North Hollywood showdown that took place a year after the movie was released.

The movie is packed with outstanding supporting performances. Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, Dennis Haysbert and a very young Danny Trejo round out De Niro's crew. Ashley Judd, Diane Venora and Amy Brenneman play Kilmer, Pacino and De Niro's no-nonsense partners and a 14-year-old Natalie Portman plays Pacino's stepdaughter. You even get musicians Henry Rollins and Tone-Loc in bit roles.

There's a second disc packed with extras including a new Academy Panel reuniting Mann, Pacino and De Niro and moderated by Christopher Nolan plus a new Toronto International Film Festival Q&A with Mann. Recycled from previous home video releases are a commentary from Michael Mann, a conversation between Pacino and De Niro, a documentary about the making of Heat, deleted scenes and "Return to the Scene of the Crime," a featurette that revisits several filming locations twelve years after the movie's release.

Both the Blu-ray and DVD are available for less than $10 online and, although it wasn't mentioned on the outside of the package, the Blu-ray copy I reviewed came with an digital HD code that can be used for a copy from the iTunes or Vudu stores.

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