‘Heat’ Director Michael Mann Calls Out Modern Action Movies

by Chris Piner

Within the last few years, television shows have taken center stage thanks to shows like Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale, and The Walking Dead. Rather it is streaming sites like Netflix or networks like AMC, shows are leading movies when it comes to viewership. But no matter the current trends, some directors and actors continue to treat the theater as the grand stage for their creations. Most recently, Tom Cruise proved the power of theaters by releasing Top Gun: Maverick, which continues to climb the box office, setting records along the way. Another celebrity focusing solely on the theatrical experience is director Michael Mann

Although released in 1995, Heat, directed by Michael Mann, featured top actors like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Throughout the film, the detective and criminal find themselves balancing both professionalism and friendship. The end result led to Heat becoming a box office success, gaining praise and accolades. 

While 27 years later, in August, Michael Mann published a novel pertaining to the events in Heat that he hopes to adapt into a movie. When asked why not create it for television, the director admitted, “There’s fantastic work in television, and for whatever reason, it has a short half-life. Dino De Laurentiis, one time, said to me about television, ‘Michael, there’s a small screen and there’s the big screen’. That said it all, you know?”

Michael Mann Not Impressed With The Quality Of Movies Anymore

Not wanting people to believe he hates television, Michael Mann added, “I’m not putting down television. It really is [a golden age]. But the big, cinematic experience – there’s nothing like it. When we had a screening of Heat at the Academy, probably 80 percent of the audience had never seen it on the big screen, and the reaction was astonishing. I had the whole cast there, and Chris Nolan moderated it. It’s on the Blu-ray – we had a panel discussion afterwards. It was really fascinating to me, to see the difference and the impact.” 

Besides his beliefs on television and the significance of watching a film in a movie theater, the director noted that the cinematic experience has been somewhat lackluster over recent years. With superhero films filling the marquee, Michael Mann explained, “I’m just bored by it. It’s not very interesting. I mean, sometimes the choreography is so outrageous that it’s fascinating, and it is quite good. But generally, no. It’s just stale.”

Michael Mann’s take on the current state of theaters is interesting given the backlash superhero films received recently as audiences grow tired of the same plots and gimmicks. While not the biggest fan, Christopher Nolan once directed the Dark Knight trilogy featuring Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger. That trilogy was influenced by the writing and directing of Heat