Heat

Michael Mann’s preeminent crime thriller somehow eluded wide audiences in 1995 but has since become an absolute classic of the genre. As he did with Thief several years prior, the writer/director goes deep into the world of career crooks, imparting specific tricks of the trade while revealing the perpetrators as utterly no-nonsense individuals. We can’t dismiss them as heartless—their attempts to establish or maintain relationships yield much of the film’s fascinating character drama—yet they are incredibly dangerous, willing to kill without hesitation as needed.

On the other side of the coin is the laser-focused cop on their trail, a good man with his own problems, and his investigation is but one of several nooses tightening on the polished crew as they set about their next big score.

Fox’s new Ultra HD release presents Mann’s recent “Director’s Definitive Edition,” with minor dialogue tweaks and an extensive re-grade of the color on a 4K master. The format’s wide color gamut gives these fresh and lovely hues room to breathe, particularly in the frequent dawn- and dusk-set scenes. The high dynamic range makes for some bold highlights in the Los Angeles night, while the 2.4:1 image is kissed by a faint but welcome layer of film grain. The increased resolution is not the greatest strength of this disc, as the focus can be a touch soft, perhaps owing to the age of stars Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, but the overall impact is terrific.

Sonically, this disc seems to be keeping the previously released DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack rather than exploring Dolby Atmos’s possibilities. I’m okay with that because this might be one of the best 5.1 mixes I’ve ever heard. Cues are thoughtfully placed in the different speakers, effectively conveying the various environments, while the crashes, explosions, helicopters, and many, many gunshots make their presence known, reinforced by a strong bass presence. By contrast, the smaller, more personal scenes have a surprising quietude, which makes the action beats hit that much harder. Even without overhead channels, there’s a spaciousness to the mix of Elliot Goldenthal’s music and the curated needle-dropping of various tunes, at times reminiscent of the pensive moods of Tangerine Dream.

This three-disc package also includes the movie on HD Blu-ray, which shares its audio commentary with the 4K platter. A separate HD Blu-ray carries a host of legacy extras, some feeling a tad outdated, although the Christopher Nolan-hosted Q&A with Mann, Pacino, and De Niro is recommended post-movie viewing.

Sound & Vision

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