BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 07:  Director Michael Mann attends 'In The Labyrinth: A Conversation with Guillermo Del Toro' at Samuel Goldwyn Theater on October 7, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Heat Exemplifies Michael Mann's Theory On Genre Films As A Whole
Michael Mann has been clear that 1995's "Heat" is a drama and not a crime movie, but even when the audience is in on the mystery from the very start, Mann is able to make the story compelling through the characters' cat-and-mouse investigation of each other. Mann was clearly interested in the clue-seeking of it all, and it ties directly to a personal theory he has about genre storytelling.
In a 2017 interview with LA Weekly, Mann was asked directly about whether he would compare the dynamic between detectives and criminals to that between directors and their characters. Touching on his philosophical view around the genre, he said, “Detectives detecting do what writers and directors do in the inverse: We have an idea for a character, and our character has origins that we invent.”
In Mann's view, the writer or director takes on the role of inventing the characters' origins, which then drive their decisions, but detectives have the opposite charge. This is how Mann depicts Al Pacino’s Vincent Hanna, particularly during the restaurant scene when he learns about Robert De Niro’s character’s inner life, which he tries to use to his advantage.