Legends of Action

July 31, 2012

Legends of Action: Michael Mann

BirthDate: February 5, 1943

Michael Mann has been a bit quiet since Public Enemies so I just wanted to remind the world what a complete legend he is. Now, in case you have never heard of him (if that’s the case, you’re a disgrace) he directed HEAT, Collateral, Miami Vice, Last of the Mohicans, Manhunter, The Insider & Ali. Not all action movies, but who cares?

He started off with the crime thriller Thief starring James Caan and then made the low budget horror effort The Keep in 1983.

It was in 1986 where he made his name and introduced the world to a guy called Hannibal Lektor in Manhunter starring Brian Cox and William Peterson. Even today it is widely regarded as the best interpretation of the character that would later be renamed Lector.

In 1992 Mann wrote and directed The Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day Lewis which was stunningly shot and had one of the finest movie scores of all time. Then in 1995 he directed a little known movie called Heat (Yeah, I’ve never heard of it either) starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.

Boasting the greatest shoot-out in cinema history; every man knows and loves the movie Heat (despite Al Pacino’s OTT acting). That blue lighting, moody cinematography, the characters who know they are doomed to fail, but go ahead anyway and it’s all round classy direction. Heat is one of the best movies ever made and is essential to every DVD collection.

I’ll quickly brush over the 1999 movie The Insider, starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe as it’s a drama with no action scenes; still a great movie though.

In 2001 he would be nominated for Oscars as Will Smith played Mohammed Ali in a classy biopic of the legendary boxer.

In 2004 he made my personal favourite film of his: Collateral. Tom Cruise is great as the cool as ice killer, Vincent. The soundtrack, the lighting, everything about it is sheer quality. The music he chooses for his movies is always interesting; he seems to be a big fan of Chris Cornell, which also makes him aces in my book.

Here is a director who doesn’t make dumb action movies, he makes movies for adults. Intelligent, sophisticated and well written. His movies never talk down to the audience, but treat us like we’re intelligent enough to understand what’s going on.

Miami Vice, although flawed is one of the best looking movies you’ll ever see; those sky shots with the planes, endless clouds and sunset are quite frankly beautiful. The dialogue was however, unrealistic in places and just plain odd; you also tend not to sympathise with any of the characters.

Public Enemies wasn’t amazing but was still very entertaining. Johnny Depp & Christian Bale acted their socks off and it was great to watch these two titans against each other. Once again, nicely shot, great music and Marion Cotillard looking amazing.

Mann’s movies all have a major flaw however, and that is the vocal track; I can rarely hear what people are saying and Miami Vice is the worst culprit. I need subtitles on to understand them, sometimes the dialogue is overly pretentious though and you really don’t need to hear it, for example: “You sift through the detritus, searching for your prey”. Uhhh dude, what? People don’t speak like that.

I’m hoping he will make a return to the epic crime drama soon as that really is his forte. So, if you haven’t seen any of his films; Heat and Collateral are essential.

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel
I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it's a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.



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