Heat goes down in history as one of the greatest bank heist movies of all time. And how could it not? The two leading men are Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, two men that if you stuck them together in a movie about a tornado raining down sharks on Los Angeles it would have gone straight to Academy Award gold. They're pitted against each other as Lt. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) frantically and violently pursues expert bank thief Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro).
Although De Niro and Pacino both starred in The Godfather II, they never shared the screen together given the split chronological storytelling of that film would have made their interaction impossible unless a time machine was utilized... which would have made The Godfather II the most mind-blowing movie EVER! In Heat, they only have two scenes together, totaling less than 10 minutes combined; just enough time to bring cinephiles across the globe to full mental orgasm.
Even if you don't count the top-notch acting, this movie has every characteristic a classic movie should have: Based on a true story, has inspired others to take action (albeit rob a bank), and has been used in military application. That's right, "In June of 2002, the scene involving the shootout after the bank robbery was shown to United States Marine recruits at MCRD San Diego as an example of the proper way to retreat while under fire." Shown. To. MARINES.
But why would such a kickass movie make me feel sicker than a girl on prom night? For that answer, I have to take you back to college.
Freshman Year: 2001-2002
Oh man, freshman year of college. Let's see, I had the cry-like-a-baby-on-the-bathroom-floor night because of tequila (the story can be found here and the first chapter in my book); The "Night of Rum" where I woke up in a strange dorm room sporting neon fingernail polish from knuckle to fingertip on my left hand; and of course, the day I washed down one too many painkillers with half a liter of vodka before meeting a friend's mom for the first time and could barely form a single coherent sentence. Those were the days.
Oh, young Don. There's just so much I need to warn you about.
Nevertheless, I pressed on, eventually reaching spring break and traveling to Fort Lauderdale (where my friend Rick lived) for a week of debauchery, mind-numbing drinking, and just about as many girls in bikinis as one could handle. Mike, Scott, and I planned on staying at Rick's for the entire week of Spring Break. If you've never experienced spring break, you've denied yourself the right to engage in behavior you'll only ever otherwise see in something written by Todd Phillips or Larry Flynt.
Every year someone ends up falling to their death from a balcony or in a hospital with alcohol poisoning. Thousands of girls show up topless on the Internet, and apparently people take dumps and vomit in the ocean. Does any of this shit happen when celebrating Memorial Day? Probably, but very rarely. But it's all in good fun, right?
In 2002, Rick's dad, John, was a sergeant for the Fort Lauderdale police department. The last night of our trip we decided to go hardcore and head to downtown Fort Lauderdale to drink ourselves into oblivion. Thousands upon thousands of college kids were roaming the streets around us, and just as luck would have it we ran into John. He was working the nightshift and standing slightly outside a large crowd of people with about 30 other officers, all armed like they were preparing to be shipped off to Fallujah.
He pulled us aside and said to stay out of trouble, then asked, "Do you know why we stand in an 'L-formation' like this?" We collectively slurred, "No." John added, "Because when" — not if, but when — "we shoot into the crowd we won't hit each other." That was just his vernacular.
We took his advice with about as much heed as a warning label insisting, "DO NOT CONSUME RAW COOKIE DOUGH." Cookie dough is fucking delicious, and so is alcohol. We continued to party until one-by-one we were more drunk than the other and slowly starting blacking out.
That Pesky Hangover
The following morning, John made sure to wake us up extra early so we could fully enjoy our hangovers — one of the worst I've experienced. Now, John is a very reasonable man, but 3 things were on his mind: He's a sergeant, we were all under 21, and we were shitfaced in HIS city for a week. If there's anything I've learned from watching all these movies, it's the fact that you can only break the law for so long before having to pay the piper. John was the piper, and he was about to collect through our asses.
"Hey boys, you've gotta check out my new surround sound system. Top of the line. Dropped my whole year-end bonus on this baby." John proceeded to put Heat into the DVD player, skipped to the bank robbery shootout, and turned the speakers up to window-shaking levels. Pregnant women within a mile radius just experienced birth defects.
Every gun blast might as well have been a real bullet entering my head, the knot in my stomach growing to the size of a Navy anchor. I wanted to throw up so badly, but knew that would show weakness and John would win. I began to sweat, and when the whole shootout was over, John asked, "You boys want to watch that again!?"
Last night was the first time I watched the movie in its entirety. Still to this day — 12 years later — I get a nauseous feeling in the pit of stomach during the bank shootout. Well played, John. Well played.