Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1995. Warner Bros., Regency Enterprises, Forward Pass, Art Linson Productions, Monarchy Enterprises B.V.. Screenplay by Michael Mann. Cinematography by Dante Spinotti. Produced by Art Linson, Michael Mann. Music by Elliot Goldenthal. Production Design by Neil Spisak. Costume Design by Deborah Lynn Scott. Film Editing by Pasquale Buba, William Goldenberg, Dov Hoenig, Tom Rolf.
Michael Mann’s most successful genre remains the cop thriller, and here he treats audiences to not one but two powerhouse actors of the tough guy canon for an enjoyable crime epic. Al Pacino plays a downtrodden police officer who is chasing after the crime boss (Robert De Niro) responsible for much of the murdering and robbing in the Los Angeles area. The joke of it is, these two have just about everything in common except for the side of the law they live on: Pacino is hardly ever home and his marriage is disintegrating, while De Niro can’t let anyone get too close and has no real centre to his life either. This intelligently written, beautifully photographed mega-film has tighly edited action scenes and a fantastic central sequence with Pacino and De Niro performing their only scene together, but loses its momentum every time Mann focuses on the supporting characters. Diane Venora‘s performance as Pacino’s ignored wife is a scene-stealer, but otherwise the tangential storylines with Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson and a host of others don’t contribute to the plot progression and instead just seem an obvious attempt to move the film beyond a traditional action flick and into the realm of grand saga. Pretentiousness aside, though, it’s not boring, and the end result is rewarding.