This film review will discuss some of the technical aspects of Heat by using appropriate filmic terminology to describe its various sections. Particular scenes will be analyzed in order to fully grasp these terms and will be compared to the rest of the film. A synopsis at the beginning of the review will reveal the story line and introduce the characters before the technical analysis takes place; whilst the conclusion underlines these important aspects in the final closing.
The film follows the trail of two men. One, an LAPD homicide officer named Vincent Hanna who is so obsessed with his work that he's failing his third marriage. Hanna lurks the streets of LA like a tiger, pestering those who are up to no good, while his personal life falls into dismay. The other, a life long expert criminal named McCauley, is simply doing what he knows best - committing crime. He also lives a lonely existence, making no personal connections that he couldn't walk out on at a moment's notice. He and his crew are after one last score; this being a bank hold up that could land them more than 12 million dollars. As these two hard-boiled men go about their business, they increasingly become aware of each other; predator and prey, and they begin to gain a certain respect for one another. Nevertheless both know that they're on a collision course with fate - and each other. While in the end, only one will be left standing.
In the subsequent scene which is to be discussed, Neil is gathering with one of Van Zant's men at an old drive in Movie Theater to accumulate his money. The deal goes awry and turns into a weapons clash between Neil's crew and Van Zant's henchmen. After Neil finds only shreds of blank paper in the package, he makes a phone call to Van Zant and threatens to kill him.
Color and lighting play significant functions in the telephone discussion. Neil is in a cafe, under high key white lighting. Van Zant is in a dark office with only blue low key lighting from one side and a little light coming through an open door behind him. As soon as Van Zant understands that his life is in danger, someone closes the door behind him and he is left with only cold blue lighting on one side of his face. By the end of the scene, as Van Zant hangs up the telephone, most of the frame is considerably black and he is consumed by the shadows. In the meantime, Neil is still under high key lighting in the cafe. The dramatic difference in color and lighting key strongly accentuates the danger in which Van Zant faces.
During the telephone conversation, a typical two shot cannot be used. Instead, both characters are shown in full front or profile positions at medium or close-up range. The audience can fully see the emotion on both characters' faces as they talk. Neil means business and Van Zant is evidently shaken. The shots of Van Zant also go from loosely framed, to tightly framed during the conversation. He shifts from being free (using up only a quarter of the frame) to being trapped. By the end of the conversation, the camera illustrates only close-ups of Van Zant - who has nowhere to run. These close-ups are also used to show facial expressions in the telephone conversation. After Van Zant slowly hangs up the phone, a close-up of his face shows his intense fear and cold eyes staring far into the distance. He is