I’ve never seen Michael Mann‘s L.A. Takedown, a 1989 TV pilot that told more or less the same story used for Heat (’95), but without the tone of expansive meditation and all the character emdroidery. And why would I? Why would anyone want to watch a shorter, cruder, nowhere near as good version of a classic?
“What ultimately makes Heat so much more than a cops-and-robbers movie is Mann’s huge canvas, which has room for plotlines and characters that could sustain films of their own: Hanna’s suicidal stepdaughter, the money launderer who makes the mistake of tangling with McCauley’s crew, the thief who moonlights as a serial killer, the noble ex-con trying (and ultimately failing) to go straight.
“Viewed in retrospect, L.A. Takedown (’89) underscores the eventual genius of Heat: When you boil this narrative down to its basics, to plot and even some dialogue, it’s a fairly plain (pedestrian, even) crime picture.
“It was all of Mann’s subsequent flourishes, all the details and atmosphere and character touches, coupled with the game-raising skill of a once-in-a-lifetime ensemble cast, that made Heat the classic it has become.” — from Jason Bailey‘s “Heat and the TV Movie That Paved Its Way to Becoming a Classic,” posted in the N.Y Times on 12.16.20.