This film given adequate time will probably fit into the category of a CLASSIC. It contains all the right ingredients including a line up of great actors portraying fascinating characters, truly believable storyline and superb directing. The story itself revolves around the two central characters namely the cop, Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and the criminal wizard, Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro). While we follow Hanna's personal life, the story shows how it is about more than just a cop in pursuit of a criminal. Hanna's marriage is flagging, and his stepdaughter is under tremendous depression, and his wife proclaims he lives his life more among the "remnants of dead people." A man of two other futile marriages; Hanna's story is that of the strain of trying to fulfil both his professional and personal lives, whereby every time, the professional side wins out. With Neil McCauley's story, it follows a mastermind criminal who is forever setting up the next heist whether it is large or small. His story involves his relationships with the other men in his crew, and his relationship with Eady, his girlfriend who is unaware of his criminal profession.
The tensions build as the director Michael Mann, shows the two contrasting strategies of each man as their paths and stories draw closer together in a cat and mouse pursuit. When the two characters eventually come face to face in a coffee shop each trying to outwit the other, the cop trying to convince the villain that he will be caught and the criminal mind believing he is the smarter of the two. The tension level goes up another scale.
The supporting cast is full of big names, and it is so pleasing to see everyone come together to make the characters reveal their own prestigious place in the film.
Val Kilmer is a bad tempered brutal personality and plays Neil McCauleys right hand man. Tom Sizemore, as the ruthless Michael Cheritto, and Jon Voight, as a gruff Nate the fence and information collator, all of which are entirely appropriate and an intricate part of the crew. Likewise, flawlessly cast are Justine Hanna (Diane Venora) and Natalie Portman, as Justine's daughter Lauren. As Venora is strong opposite Pacino, so Eady (Amy Brenneman) is an identical strongly cast partner for DeNiro.
Michael Mann's powerful direction of the movie keeps the film moving while providing an incredible formula of action and drama. He moves from scene to scene quickly and fluently and each scene leaves its own, unique impression on the tension of the audience. The director had a difficult job in staging what can only be described as a shoot-out after a bank robbery in the streets of L.A, the like of which has not been seen before. The action levels never become more important than the drama balance, not surprisingly his more realistic sense of style is what makes this scene so truly believable.