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Great Actors Carry Tepid ‘Heat’

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro starred together in “The Godfather, Part II,” one of the greatest movies of all time and winner of the 1974 Academy Award for best picture.

De Niro also won a supportingactor Oscar for that one, and Pacino got a best-actor nomination. Both eventually took home best-actor Oscars, but they never made another movie together.

That is, until now.

“Heat” reunites these highly acclaimed performers in an oddly fascinating, extraordinarily hard-edged crime drama. De Niro plays McCauley, leader of a small band of thieves who plan to hold up a bank; Pacino is Lt. Hanna, the Los Angeles cop in charge of hunting them down.

“Heat” runs nearly three hours, and they wait about half that long for their only real dialogue scene together.

The scene in question shows McCauley and Hanna - who have been stalking each other - sitting across a table in a coffee shop. On the surface, this sequence is about two very tough guys, one on either side of the law, leveling with each other.

It’s hard to watch the scene, however, without coming to the conclusion that it is also about two actors sharing their most private thoughts about the competitive nature of their work.

In fact, that seems to be what it’s mainly about.

When you come right down to it, the entire movie is mostly about acting. Its skeletal plot and flimsy characters are little more than opportunities for Pacino, De Niro and the supporting cast to show off.

Most crime-movie fans can safely give “Heat” a pass. But for acting aficionados (and I admit to being one) it’s a tough film to resist.

I won’t reveal who wins in the battle of wills between the cop and the crook, but I will say that Pacino beats De Niro in the acting competition.

xxxx “Heat” Location: East Sprague, Lyons and Showboat cinemas Credits: Written and directed by Michael Mann; starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Amy Brenneman, Diane Venora and Ashley Judd Running time: 3 hours Rating: R