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Most people who see L.A. Takedown nowadays will see it for one reason: the
fact that director Michael Mann remade this as Heat starring Robert DeNiro
and Al Pacino in the Alex McArthur and Scott Plank roles. And that is
basically the only reason why you would want to see this, unless you're an
avid fan of '80 cop shows (there's even an detective-on-the-prowl-style
When you watch this as I did (after seeing the brilliant Heat) you'll be pretty surprised by how much of L.A. Takedown went into Heat. From the opening heist to that famous coffeebar scene, a lot in both movies is identical, from characters to dialogue to camera angles. Most differences between both films are actually additions (which, of course, make Heat a good hour longer than L.A. Takedown). The Chris Shehirlis character (Val Kilmer in Heat) is basically an extra in L.A. Takedown as is the getaway driver for the bank robbery. Ah yes, the bank robbery. It's present here too, although of course, it doesn't last for nearly fifteen minutes (try three). Then whole subplots from Heat (for instance the one featuring Vincent Hanna's daughter) are absent and the ending is quite different, causing L.A. Takedown to lack the almost epic feel of Heat. Still, a lot of what is L.A. Takedown went on to become Heat.
And that's why L.A. Takedown merits viewing; to see how this film evolved from a cheaply made, averagely entertaining TV pilot show to what may just be the crime movie of the nineties. Many of the differences concerning the script I've already mentioned. The other main differences lie in acting and direction. To say that someone named Scott Plank (yes, plank) is not up there with Al Pacino is hardly surprising. But Plank is really pretty embarassing in this, coming across as someone who's copying crap TV-show acting like that from shows such as Hunter or Miami Vice. Even more embarassing is McArthur, who doesn't succeed in bringing any of his character's complexity to light (his character is actually pretty well developed in the script, which makes McArthur 'performance' even worseand it's the only character whose name was changed for Heat - don't ask me why). The rest of the cast isn't even worthy of comparison with their Heat counterparts.
As for directing, L.A. Takedown actually lookes pretty good, given that's it's a cheap TV movie. As said, some camerawork is very literally repeated in Heat (the opening heist is just one example), but L.A. Takedown is more coloured than Heat. Heat may be very stylised, the reality aspect of it was never looked over. In L.A. Takedown the stylism is present, but the realism takes a back seat, as dark streets and dim lights convey the traditional view of L.A. as a seedy place. But although the technical brilliance of Heat's cinematographer Dante Spinotti is clearly missed, L.A. takedown is visually not that bad.
In short: L.A. Takedown is not a good movie, and by itself not even remarkable. It is however a very interesting companion to Heat and both movies combined show that what you should remake is bad movies with unused potential, not good movies.
Rating: 4/10 (Heat: 9/10)
This is the original version of what we now know as the modern classic Heat. If you watch LA Takedown and Heat, you will see many of the scenes paralleled. LA Takedown is not a great movie, but it does make an interesting companion to its superior counterpart. Worth watching for this reason alone.
This movie is basically the same movie as HEAT. To say that this movie is garbage and that HEAT is a masterpiece is plain stupid, but that's almost how the IMDB users voted. Last time I checked this movie had an average rating of 5.7 while HEAT had 7.8. Anyway I don't need any Pacino or De Niro to recognize a good movie. HEAT might be a little better but it's not THAT much better. Had I seen this movie first I don't know if I had bothered seing HEAT, but sadly the big remakes get all the attention. Soon the remake of another excellent movie "manhunter" will come up in the theatres, and it will probably make people forget about how good the original is and if there are people that still haven't seen it, they will only see the remake. I don't think you should do remakes of movies that are less than 20 or 30 years old. I think I'm against almost any remake. If the original is good then why do a remake? and if it's bad well even less reason to do it...Anyway both movies are good and I like them both even if I don't like the remake phenomenon.
L. A. TAKEDOWN is an extremely watchable film, and has a script that is permeated by a kind of grim intelligence. The characters, far from being plastic stereotypes, actually engage on a psychological level. Michael Mann directs with considerable skill, and most tellingly, knows how to use music to maximum effect. In this respect, his ability at times almost reaches the genius level of the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo. But main honours in this film must go to Alex McArthur who gives an amazing performance of such skill and power that he actually conveys the very thoughts and feelings of his character through body language or facial expression. The scene where the two protagonists (the hoodlum and the cop) have coffee together is almost faultless in conveying the powerful emotions and tensions that are at work between them, as well as the mind-set which motivates each of the characters, and, for once, the various love scenes are convincing and important to the development of the narrative. Interestingly too, (although it perhaps happened by default since it was a film made for television), the actual violence that is a necessary part of the story is rendered perhaps even more powerfully by NOT being shown, or by happening off-camera. But to my mind, the film belongs to Alex McArthur who turns in one of the best acting performances I have seen in a very long time, which is able to make you both loathe and feel pity for his character at one and the same time. No mean feat!
One might think that this is by far inferior to Heat, the second attempt Mann got at this story, with a larger budget, longer running time and better(and definitely more well-known) actors. Comparisons are impossible to avoid, due to how well-known, popular, and, frankly, excellent the latter of these versions is. And yes, it is greater than this; Michael learned from his experiences making this one, and having watched one of these doesn't mean that it's a waste of time to pursue the other one, no, quite the opposite. And this isn't anywhere near as poor as could be feared or maybe even expected. The performances are nicely done, in a lot of the cases. The male leads do well, and are good casting choices, and that extends beyond those two. Yes, you can tell that this was produced for TV, but it's not as bad as with other movies of that type. The action is pretty decent. This gets some of the drama, and does actually develop characters on both sides of the law. The cinematography and editing are well-done. Pacing is fair. This is only 90 minutes, so about half of what the '95 effort is, and thus can't manage the same level of complexity. Meanwhile, it does well with what it's got. The DVD has biographies and a trailer. I recommend this to anyone who has or is considering watching the famed remake of this. 6/10
OK so I'd probably have given this a 9 but felt the rating was
disproportionately low and no doubt reflects Heat fans deliberately
rating this down to show partisan support for their beloved Heat,
rather than because they actually disliked this movie that much. Just a
hunch! It's amazing to me how easily people will be polarised on a
trivial issue. It's the same director FFS! What's the point of blindly
hating one and adoring the other. It's not a football match.
Forgetting about the bloody remake for a minute, you've got try to imagine this movie framed in the context of 1989. It was re-inventing an extremely tired genre with a brand new style. Rather than lazily re-hashing the hackneyed cops good/crooks evil template, it attempted to give a believable account of how a specialist team of cops and a serious crew of crooks operated on different sides of the same coin. It tries to make you sympathise with both sides which was *incredibly* rare back then. It introduced shockingly believable and cold violence which was even rarer.
Whatever you make of this now, you need to at least acknowledge that it would've been ground breaking and original when it came out, and lets face it, that there would have been no Heat if it weren't for this.
When I bought this on DVD 10 years or so ago I noticed a couple of things that may have contributed to the bad reviews.
First of all there was the appalling quality of the DVD recording - that really takes a lot away from the style of the movie and that's just unfortunate. Maybe down to bad storage or just a cheap pressing of the DVD.
Secondly was how dated it looked. OK so Michael Mann's original batch of 80s movies/TV series were never going to age well because they whole-heartedly celebrated 80s fashion, design, architecture, language and style. This worked so well on screen back then. The zeitgeist of the 80s was brutally different to what had preceded it - a bold industrial/chic/sanitised re-imagining of a stale flower power, earthy world. Some rejected it, others embraced it. Among those who embraced it were movie directors like Michael Mann, and John Hughes. Sure, 5 or 6 fashion fads later and it looks dated and ridiculous. Well guess what, that's exactly what those guys made of the 60s/70s fashions that they were rejecting and that's what the next batch will make of fashion now and so on and so on. That's no reason to close the door on art produced in a particular era. You've got to think bigger than that or you're going to miss out on some amazing old movies.
There's a hell of a lot in the very well written dialogue which beautifully captures the values of the time it was made, e.g. "I'm a heavy hitter, I travel in circles, you know, like strata, strata at the top see? Cos I have access to some of the most precious commodity on Earth - information, data." If it sounds corny now, well remember it sounded sharp back then.
Very few people agree with this but I honestly preferred the original Scott Plank and Alex McArthur as the cop/crook. I thought they were much more believable in those roles than the aging DeNiro and Pacino. DeNiro gave it his best but if I had to guess which out of him and McArthur had been inside serving time, I'd go with McArthur every time - he comes over as a very convincing psychopath who could kick off at any moment. As for Pacino, I think he was having a bit of laugh with his character in Heat to be honest - "...great ass" etc. Scott Plank was actually convincing as an ex marine turned cop capable of sprinting down the street hauling an assault rifle and after a crew that had taken down a bank.
I also prefer Vincent Guastaferro to Sizemore as the driver, and Xander Berkeley has to be better as the weaselly, desperate, wannabe tough guy Waingro. The guy in Heat was way too tough and mean looking to play that part.
Sure so more money's going to lead to tighter production, better music, better effects etc. No brainer. But in terms of capturing the spirit of the story, the locations, the characters & the interplay between them, LA Takedown wins for me.
I do like Heat in its own right, but I will always prefer LA Takedown because it was the original and it is steeped in the time it was intended for. Just like I'll always infinitely prefer the 1964 Ford Mustang to the current remake even though it should always lose on paper. It's about originality, class, and the spirit of the era that went into it.
I loved L.A. Takedown and would give it a 9 or 10 but I grade tough ... Heat was a fine remake with much more accomplished actors; itself a tribute to Alex Mc Arthur & Hanna ... Deniro and Pacino copied them, imagine how that feels for 2 good actors ... I saw the original as a repeat and Heat many years after it was shot ... never saw either one again by happenstance ... I prefer the original for being more realistic although it did feature a team of designer detectives who matched their glasses and ties with their suits as if they were pharmaceutical salesmen calling on plastic surgeons instead of cops rousting thugs all day ... Heat was even more fashion runway conscious which took it down a peg for me but it remains a good action cops & robbers yarn ... I see where some posters rap Alex for being too wooden but I found that realistic ... playing it flat is correct for guys who can look right through you and spend their days planning ways to blast apart steel and concrete barriers to O.P.M... they tend to be as dry and cold as ice and not very colorful or expressive ... I did a fair amount of police reporting and cops always told me that many true professional criminals will fool you in the sense that they look and comport themselves as if they were the assistant manager of the local Burger King ... LA Takedown had some dialogue that still rings in my ears and reflects the intensely selfish and myopic perspective of the true habitual career criminal such as Alex explaining his accidental victims to his girlfriend that "it rains, people get wet" and the renegade member of the heist team exclaiming to himself as he spins to plunge a hunting knife into a prostitute that "I'm a stone cold, sky blue killer" .. I thank other posters for pointing out the many similarities but I saw no reference to the very different endings ... we have the drama of the airport shootout in Heat to Alex getting blasted by the psycho through a hotel door in LA Takedown and telling Hanna "they just don't make doors like they used to" as he dies in his arms ... perfect last words for an exceptionally practical, emotionless man
I must say, this original 'Heat' where the remake was more universal with bigger name actors and went into more of the character's lives, whatever, still didn't disappoint. It actually went higher than my expectations, and this being a Michael Mann film too, I should of known better, leading me to wonder that this lower profile 'Heat' pic surely didn't deserve the obscurity it must of had, sitting on the video shelves for years. The two leads are excellent, which again, had me underestimating it, especially McCarthur's performance of our A1 solid professional thief/robber, who he plays straight serious right down the line. I enjoyed him much more than seeing De Niro doing it to be frank. When seeing Pacino do hot shot dick, Hanna, in the remake, Plank, an actor who sadly isn't with us anymore, where I had seen him in some other stuff is far different, from Pacino, his interpretation here I found, mystifyingly exciting, where he brought something with it too. He's definitely someone you don't toy with, as by example in a few scenes, one I thought was hilariously cool like it's leads. I'd rather opt to watch these two than the actor duo in the 96 remake. From the word go, it's typical Michael Mannish, his signature all over this pic, those cool music scores, I never get sick of. That infamous café scene with the antagonist and protagonist, engaged me so much, especially McCarthur again, that same dialogue exchange between the two was beautiful interaction. But what was more engaging, was the pre moment to this scene where outside the coffee house, both parties, who happen to cross paths, are about to draw their guns. Plank smooths the waters, by offering to buy him coffee. The bank shootout/botched job scene was loudly intense, those deafening AK's bringing back the glimpse of a horrid memory, also from 96. Okay, if you've seen Heat like me first, you might be thinking, "Yeah so"? where there's a lot, I mean a lot of identic stuff in this, but remember, this is the original, that inspired the mega hit. Still, this comes off as a success, an underestimated surprise, with a few small differences, what have you, which is remake law, except for 'Funny Games'. Don't let this one slip by, folks, for the two cool leads, and that wonderful Mann direction, which in some ways is unsurpassable, always involving us, where we're part of film too, thanks to this master.
Essentially a dry run for 'Heat', a modern classic that I find pretty
dull; but even at half the length 'L.A. Takedown' is twice as boring.
There isn't much time to set up the characters, so Scott Plank (tee
hee) and Alex McArthur aren't too convincing as the cop and the crook,
respectively, and there isn't much tension between them.
This isn't the film's fault, but I couldn't help comparing it to 'Heat' and ticking off which characters were played by other actors in the superior version. Plank and McArthur in this one, Pacino and DeNiro in the redo - you can't really compete with that, can you? The famous shootout and confrontation scenes are present and correct but pack nothing like the same punch. It's a footnote of a movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is not a bad film at all on its own merits. Essentially 95% of the
scenes in this movie were made almost exactly the same in Heat (with
Heat have much more character detail hence its longer run time). But
knowing Heat is a remake of this, makes this film a very interesting
footnote in film history. There is no way to not compare the actors
performances in both films.
Of course, it's hard to be compared to a role Al Pacino ended up doing. You will lose. But worse, Scott Plank here was just miscast anyway. He doesn't appear to be a bad actor - he's too young to be leading this task force and looks like the "porno version" of the character Pacino played. He plays the character like a bad TV cop show cop and that's the huge negative of this otherwise pretty good movie.
I found Mann's direction no where near as good in this as in Heat. Plus it was made when Miami Vice was still on there air so this is almost like a West Coast version of Miami Vice. But overall not bad at all. And being it was remade by a film many people consider to be one of their all time favorites, this little TV movie will always have a remembered spot in film history.
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