Heat 2 Set Out To Recreate Michael Mann's Voice On The Page

Michael Mann's style is easy to see on screen. It's there in the Tangerine Dream soundtrack to "Thief," the moody color palette of "Manhunter," and, of course, the self-assured mastery of 1995's "Heat." It's the last film that has just landed a sequel, not in the form of a film, but a novel continuation titled "Heat 2." /Film's Jack Giroux spoke with Mann's co-author Meg Gardiner about translating Mann's style into a less visual format.

"What we were trying to do, and I knew that we had to do, was to put on the page the same feeling you get from watching a Michael Mann film," she explained. That's no small feat: "Heat" features two phenomenal performances from its stars, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. As a criminal and the man trying to catch him, the pair put in emotionally complex, world-weary performances that complement each other perfectly. They elevate what could be a simple crime saga to the status of a classic, but they don't do it alone: Mann's thoughtful script lends the movie's characters a subtle interiority that transcends the cops-and-robbers genre they're living in.

For Gardiner's part, she says reading the "Heat" script for the first time helped her understand Mann's style not just as a filmmaker, but as a writer. She shared:

"Michael sent me the shooting script for 'Heat.' And that was the first time I had just read Michael's voice on the page, because it's his script and you can see how propulsive and vivid and dramatic it is and how incredibly sharp every word of dialogue is, how the characters come to life, only a very few words and a bit of description. So I knew we wanted to make use of Michael's skill at that kind of vivid writing."

Mann's script guided the style

The new book takes a wider scope than the film, covering the events of the day after the climactic "Heat" shootout, but also explores the heyday of McCauley's (De Niro) time as a criminal, an earlier case in Hanna's (Pacino) career, and the aftermath of the events of "Heat." That's a lot of ground to cover: in his review of the book, /Film's Chris Evangelista calls it "a story as sprawling and violent as the film that inspired it." For Gardiner, it was a matter of bringing all the elements of the massive story together by matching Mann's distinct style.

"It is a thriller. It is a crime saga. There is a lot of big action," she says. "So I deliberately did want it to have very punchy writing, staccato sentences, certainly in the action scenes." The author also points out that plot shouldn't be overlooked either. "When you've worked out the kinks in the plot and decided who lives and who dies, you can polish your writing," she shared. It sounds like Mann and Gardiner polished it up well — as Evangelista writes, "The result is a pulpy, action-packed page-turner that fully engulfs us in the moody, bloody, romantic worlds Mann creates in his films."

The novel "Heat 2" is in stores now.