This Burt Reynolds starrer had a very troubled production, with punches thrown and inevitable walk outs, it's no surprise to find this is hardly a great film. However, it's not as some would have you believe, a chaotic turd either.
The password is later!
Plot has Reynolds as Nick Escalante, he's an ex-mercenary working out of Las Vegas as a bodyguard for hire - amongst other things. When a lady of the night who he has paternal regard for is brutally beaten and sexually dehumanised, it brings Nick into conflict with a young gangster pretender with organised crime connections. All this as Nick battles his gambling addiction whilst trying to achieve his goal of moving to Venice, Italy, for his five year plan.
You're a peach of a guy. You're "A" number one. You're a swell fella.
Adapted by William Goldman from his own novel of the same name, Heat often threatens to be a very good picture. The characterisations are rich and interesting, the setting ripe for dark deeds and dream shattering, and Reynolds is in fine form. Reynolds was still a star, even if the films he was starting to make in the 80s didn't come close to matching his status. He is badly let down by some very creaky and daft action sequences here, why the director (Dick Richards/Jerry Jameson) didn't just do real time man to man combat is as mysterious as the resultant offering is daft.
I made $7 million dollars on my 28th birthday. Don't call me kid.
Whilst the screenplay lacks action (do not enter this one expecting an action fest), the script does have some weighty merit where Nick's interactions with others is concerned, none more so than with Peter MacNicol's (superb) Cyrus Kinnick. He's afraid of being afraid, enlisting Nick to give him a crash course in bravery. They are an odd pairing, but crucial to each other, they give the film its deft slices of humour, and simultaneously holding the key as to why Heat is not a bad film at all.
Michael Gibbs layers some smart sultry jazz music over proceedings, befitting the Vegas setting, while James Contner's cinematography is also tonally compliant to the sort of desperation feeling permeating the plot. Howard Hesseman and Diana Scarwid aren't given enough time to impact greatly, but at least Karen Young as Holly (lady of the night) strikes the right chords. Unfortunately Neill Barry as chief villain Danny DeMarco is implausibly poor and irritating into the bargain.
Enjoyment of Heat possibly hangs on if you happen to be a Reynolds fan, to get entertainment from watching him hold court. Viewed as a strong character piece with Reynolds front and center it passes muster, but if looking for something more then you could end up - like many already have- disappointed. 7/10