Michael Mann's 'Heat', released in 1995, has become a benchmark for crime thrillers.
Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight' took several influences from it, as did Steve McQueen's 'Widows' while videogames like 'Payday', 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare', and 'Grand Theft Auto V' sought to evoke it in their gameplay. A demolition company in Tuscon - which Chris Shiherlis mentions at the start - is even mentioned in Wes Anderson's 'Rushmore'. Yes, really.
Anyway, last week saw Michael Mann confirm a release date for the sequel to 'Heat' in novel form, something that had been talked about for several years now. With that in mind, let's get down to details before the heat comes 'round the corner.
OK, SO THE MOVIE ENDED ON A PRETTY FINAL NOTE, RIGHT?
Yeah, pretty much. In fact, our article series about final scenes - titled The Final Scene - began with 'Heat'.
What made 'Heat' so special was the binary between Vincent Hanna and Neil McAuley, and it ends so spectacularly when McAuley dies by Vincent Hanna's gun. Of course, this being Michael Mann, each of the characters beyond those two were fleshed out to such a degree that there are endless amounts of opportunities for back story and future story. That's where 'Heat 2' comes in. The novel will be set over three distinct timelines - 1989, 1995, and 2002.
THREE TIMELINES? WHY THREE?
Well, it being Michael Mann, interwoven storylines are par for the course. That's why it's so good. You could take literally any of the subplots - a serial killer who targets sex workers, a LAPD detective on a fast-track to his third divorce, a lonely bank robber who finds love, a recent parolee trying to go straight in a crooked diner - and turn it into a movie.
For the novel, the 1989 timeline will follow Vincent Hanna - that's Al Pacino's character - as he works narcotics in Chicago and how his service in the Marine Corps in Vietnam impacted his career, as well as his "disaster zone" of a personal life. As well as this, the 1989 timeline will also zero in on how Neil McAuley and Chris Shiherlis came together. Mann also told Deadline that the 1989 timeline will also show how Kelso - that's Tom Noonan's character - worked with McAuley on a previous job. More specifically, it will show how McAuley came to embrace his dictum of leaving attachments behind, and how he became so disciplined.
The novel will also pick up literally one day after the events of the movie, with a severely injured Chris Shiherlis trying to escape Los Angeles, and then jump forward to 2002 where the story jumps to South American and Asia as the high-flying crime industry develops.
WHY ISN'T THIS BEING MADE INTO A MOVIE? WHY IS IT A NOVEL?
Well, there's a few reasons.
For one, Michael Mann has never been big on CGI, and the only way that they could utilise the same cast is to de-age them with CGI. Al Pacino is 81 now, so he can't very well play Vincent Hanna anymore. Sure, they could get someone to play him as a younger man, but would it work as well? Not really. Val Kilmer, likewise, is 61 and has two tracheotomies and changed his voice. Simply put, none of the original actors would be able to resume their roles.
On top of that, a sequel to 'Heat' would be hamstrung by all sorts of issues. The ending of 'Heat', for example, simply couldn't be done today due to severe security at airports. Not only that, the kind of scale and size of the movie is reserved for comic-book blockbusters, not cerebral crime sagas. In a novel, budget and time constraints aren't an issue. Plus, for a director who is as particular as Michael Mann, he can get everything the way he wants.
WASN'T THIS GOING TO BE A GAME AT ONE POINT?
That's right. Back in the early aughts, Gearbox Software - that's the studio behind 'Borderlands' - had early development and conversations with both Michael Mann and some of the cast - specifically Al Pacino, Val Kilmer, and Robert DeNiro - to reprise their roles. Obviously, nothing ever came of it, but it's key to underlining just how influential the movie was on gaming development. A few years later, an entire sequence of 'Grand Theft Auto IV' would be copped straight from 'Heat'. The entire downtown LA sequence was even recreated in 'Payday 2'.
IS THERE ENOUGH OF A STORY THERE FOR IT TO BE JUSTIFIED?
Are you joking? Michael Mann is famous for making his actors do all sorts of work for their characters. For 'Heat', Mann had Robert DeNiro go out to various prisons around California to meet with armed robbers in prison to get a better understanding of their situation. You know why Neil McAuley always has really starched collars on his suit shirts? They learn to do that in prison. Same reason he always wears a grey suit. He blends in everywhere he goes, it's completely nondescript, and he can disappear in an instant. That all came from Robert DeNiro's research from Michael Mann.
Not only that, Mann sketched out entire backstories and did extensive character development studies for each and every one of the characters, from Ashley Judd's character Charlene, right through to Tom Noonan's Kelso. What the novel will do is explore them before, during, and after and intertwine them in the same way that 'Heat' did.
WHO IS WRITING THE NOVEL?
Michael Mann is co-writing the sequel with Meg Gardiner, who wrote 'China Lake' and won the Edgar Award for it. A lot of Gardiner's work has been about the lines between morality and wrongdoing, and some of her work has been pretty extreme. Seriously. Read literally any of the Evan Delaney novels and you'll see what we're talking about. It's going to be Mann's first novel, but for Meg Gardiner, this will mark her sixteenth novel since 2002.
SO WHEN WILL IT BE RELEASED?
The release date has been set for August 2022, with the date expected to be the same worldwide so you'll be able to pick it up then. Here's the trailer for it. If you're wondering, that music is from the end credits of 'Heat' and it's called 'God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters', by Moby. Fun fact - Elliot Goldenthal wrote music that Mann passed on for the ending, but was then later used for the credits sequence in 'Michael Collins'.