Movies

Heat 2: An Unexpected Sequel And Prequel Novel

“GIMME ALL YOU GOT!” Al Pacino’s character Lt. Vincent Hanna demands from a criminal in Michael Mann’s film Heat (1995). And that’s exactly what the fans of cinema’s most celebrated heist film of all time will get this August 9th, 2022. Yes, that’s right, more Heat is coming from just around the corner that Robert De Niro’s character Neil McCauley warned his professional comrades about. Of course, it’s not the kind of police heat he was actually speaking of, it’s a novel written by the filmmaker himself, Michael Mann, and Edgar Award-winning, best-selling author Meg Gardiner.

Michael Mann originally announced he was going to write the novel back in 2016, and if successful, most likely produce a film adaptation of it. I’m sure that after the success of Quentin Tarantino’s novel adaptation of his film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019), which was published in June 2021, perked the ears up of many book publishing companies, and got them to listen to what Michael Mann had planned for his upcoming novel simply titled: Heat 2.

Right before Heat was going to be released back in 1995, it was already highly anticipated due to the fact that the biggest actor heavyweights in Hollywood were going to finally share a scene together: Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Two decades prior they were both in The Godfather Part 2 (1974), but since the characters they played in that film were in two different eras of American History, they obviously never appeared together — De Niro played the young Vito Corleone in the 1910s, while Al Pacino played his youngest son in the late 1950s. In Heat the two play the classic rivals: the cop vs. the robber. And the first scene they share together will be remembered by film fanatics for at least the next century. It’s a scene so cool that it inspired one of the best scenes in the most financially, and critically successful comic book films of all time: the interrogation scene between Batman and Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008). Heck, it inspired ALL of The Dark Knight and how its story is told in the film. Christopher Nolan had the entire film crew watch Heat while in pre-production of the Batman sequel.

Fun fact about the first scene Al Pacino and Robert De Niro had together: it’s actually based on a real event that happened in the 1960s. While Michael Mann was doing research for the script, a retired detective told him a story of how he followed a bank robber he was investigating. One night he pulled him over to the side of the road, and had two things going through his mind: either he was going to kill a cop killer, or have a cup of coffee with him and have a simple conversation. He chose the latter, which, decades later, resulted in this:

One of the coolest facts about Heat is not how influential it has been in other films, but the true fact that the shootout scene near the end of the movie is shown to recruits in the United States Marines as part of their training, due to the film’s accurate, and realistic depiction of both the right way to retreat under fire and the proper way to quickly change a gun’s magazine. The funny thing is it’s the fact that the recruits learn more from the criminal’s actions in the intensely loud and violent sequence than that of the cops.

Heat 2: A Novel will be both a sequel and prequel to the film. As a sequel, it will follow Val Kilmer’s character, Chris Shiherlis in the aftermath of the film, and what he does with his life. (Spoiler) Though he was the only one of the heist crew to survive at the end of the film, he lost his ability to see both his wife and young child. The last thing he seems to want to do at the end of the film is a gamble, which basically is his addiction. But he’s the youngest member of the crew and has a long life ahead of him if he can control his urges. The prequel part of the novel will cover the early lives of both Al Pacino’s Vincent Hanna and Robert De Niro’s Neil McCauley.

While writing the script for Heat, Michael Mann wrote extensive biographies for each of the characters, so he had a lot of material to work with while writing the prequel/sequel novel with author Meg Gardiner. I don’t think it will sell as many copies as Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, but there might be a really cool film adaptation to look forward to. It would be interesting to see who can pull off playing the young versions of Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, and even Danny Trejo (Yes, Machete is in Heat).

Below is a video created by Glass Distortion that illustrates not only the influence of Heat on Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight but many other of Michael Mann’s films as well:

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