Why Michael Mann wrote ‘Heat 2,’ his film sequel, as a novel

“Heat 2” is an odd kind of novel: a debut by filmmaker Michael Mann that occurs to be a sequel to his 1995 movie, “Heat.” But it surely doesn’t, Mann insists, mark a return to the L.A. neo-noir traditional that introduced Al Pacino and Robert De Niro collectively onscreen for the primary time. That’s as a result of Mann by no means left it.

“Or it never left me,” he says on a Zoom name from Rome. “The material is so large, meaning what I knew and found fascinating about the origins and the potential futures of [De Niro’s criminal] Neil McCauley and [Pacino’s LAPD detective] Vincent Hanna is where they would go after the events of ‘Heat.’”

Chris Shiherlis, performed by Val Kilmer within the film, is the final man left alive the day after the movie ends and the e book begins. Wounded and determined, he has to get out of L.A. “Heat 2” follows Shiherlis’ flight to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. There he works safety for the Taiwanese conglomerate behind a black-market software program scheme. Using a “The Godfather Part II”-like construction, the narrative intercuts his story with chapters set seven years earlier, in 1988, when McCauley’s crew makes an attempt a daring takedown of a drug cartel in a Mexicali motel. Again in Chicago, Hanna is in pursuit of a home-invasion gang keen on rape and torture.

The story of “Heat” has been with Michael Mann because the Nineteen Seventies, changing into a TV film, a traditional 1995 movie, and now a sequel-as-novel, “Heat 2.”

(Tyler Golden)

So why the novel? It took some persuasion from Mann’s wheeling-and-dealing agent, Shane Salerno of the Story Manufacturing facility, to determine this was one of the best format for a sequel. One of many apparent logistical snags in the best way of constructing a movie: time. All of the actors had been older, now not age-appropriate. A novel permits Mann to revisit the period and his characters unfettered by casting choices — by no means thoughts the contortions and delays of the event course of. Salerno negotiated an imprint for the filmmaker at HarperCollins, the place two extra books are beneath contract, maybe together with a second within the “Heat” universe.

Then it was time to discover a co-writer. After a sequence of interviews, Mann chosen Edgar Award-winning crime novelist Meg Gardiner, who shares his ardour for the fabric and his dedication to analysis.

“Michael has amazing contacts everywhere in the world on all sides of law and order,” says Gardiner, whose novel “The Dark Corners of the Night” is being become an Amazon sequence. “It was an enlightening and extremely informative phone call we had for a couple of hours with a retired bank robber. Also an enlightening late night we did, riding out with two LAPD sergeants through some parts of Los Angeles to see what goes on after most businesses shut down.”

Working by means of the worst of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the pair traded chapters and notes for a yr earlier than lastly assembly nose to nose. “Her powers of description are fantastic,” Mann says. “Before we started writing there was probably a 65-page narrative of what this novel would be. When people say story structure, that means work out every single beat of that story, and how all the parts are going to work together. ”

Just like the film, the e book is anxious with cops and robbers functionally on the high of their recreation however existentially bottoming out. There’s a second within the novel when Hanna, on his means dwelling one night time, his investigation floundering, abruptly finds himself on a freeway headed south. On a abandoned nation highway, he shuts off his headlights and flooring it, suicidally hurtling by means of darkness. It’s a second taken from Mann’s personal youth.

“You just are driving through the city in the middle of the night. And you find yourself out in the black plains of Illinois heading down toward Kankakee, saying, ‘How long can I go if I turn off the light and I’m in the dark on this highway?’” he remembers asking himself. “I can’t see anything, and you just kind of dance with death, kind of a sick indulgence, but you do it. But I had no idea what I wanted to do and it was making me … crazy.”

Al Pacino in Michael Mann's "Heat."

Al Pacino in Michael Mann’s “Heat.” The brand new novel, “Heat 2,” flashes ahead and again from the unique film’s occasions.

(Warner Bros/Warner Bros)

Mann quickly discovered some path as an aspiring novelist at College of Wisconsin–Madison, the place he earned his bachelor’s diploma, adopted by a grasp’s from London Movie Faculty. In Hollywood he discovered early success writing for TV reveals earlier than directing the TV jail film “The Jericho Mile” in 1979. His function debut got here with 1981’s “Thief,” primarily based on real-life prison John Santucci — establishing a sample of utilizing actual individuals as character inspiration.

“Santucci was a high-line pro jewel thief. He was a burglar. And I got very close to him. He never stopped being a thief, even when he was on camera,” says Mann, referring to Santucci’s transient profession in movie and TV. “Santucci was a sometime informant and a full-time professional thief.”

Portraying him was James Caan, who died final month at 82. “I loved him. He was outrageous,” Mann says, recalling the time Caan informed a high movie govt he ought to give up, “and then proceeded to list all the reasons why this particular executive ought to fire himself.”

From “Thief,” Mann moved on to classics like “Manhunter,” which launched Hannibal Lecter to filmgoers, and “The Insider,” which earned him three Oscar nominations. “Thief,” “Heat” and 2004’s “Collateral” marked him out as a peerless chronicler of contemporary Los Angeles’ prison underworld.

Probably the most indelible scene in “Heat” is an informal assembly between McCauley and Hanna. Of their first scene collectively, De Niro and Pacino play lethal adversaries who share a grudging respect for one another’s drive and professionalism. The scene relies on a real-life encounter described to Mann by detective Charlie Adamson, former accomplice to Dennis Farina, who left the Chicago Police Division to pursue a profitable profession in Hollywood. Adamson, who was dropping off his cleansing, seemed throughout the road and noticed the real-life McCauley going into Belden Deli.

Criminal Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) and LAPD cop Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) in Michael Mann's "Heat" (1995).

Prison Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) and LAPD cop Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) in an indelible scene from Michael Mann’s “Heat” (1995) primarily based on a real-life assembly the director heard about.

(Warner Bros/Warner Bros)

“There was about to be a shootout in the parking lot, and then Adamson said, ‘Come on, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee,’” Mann remembers. That single second of enemies breaking bread “opened up a whole world to me — respecting and admiring the professionalism of McCauley” although Adamson would “blow him out of his socks at the drop of a hat. Both can be true. It’s not a contradiction.”

Adamson was a part of a staff that gunned down McCauley in 1964.

The sequel-as-novel is simply the most recent twist within the lengthy cross-genre journey of a narrative that’s been Mann’s fixed companion all through his profession. He started writing the script within the Nineteen Seventies, ultimately turning it right into a 1989 TV film, “L.A. Takedown,” earlier than remodeling it into the 1995 function movie. “I’ve met the real people that are in this book and have been in the milieus that are in this book,” he explains. “In the real world, this stuff is way more exciting than anything you can make up sitting in a room in L.A.”

That tough-earned authenticity, primarily based on insider information and a journalistic eye, is a prized commodity in crime fiction, from the thrillers of former cop Joseph Wambaugh to ex-reporter David Simon’s “The Wire.” Mann, who comes by his experience by way of decades-long relationships with cops and criminals, has now introduced it to each the display screen and the web page by way of the identical narrative.

What the 27-year-gap has allowed Mann to do is mark the influence of time on each mortal males and the crimes they perpetrate. Towards the top of “Heat 2,” Shiherlis finds himself on the precipice of a brand new world in transnational crime — software program techniques that may penetrate any protection or protect offenders from crime solvers. He realizes financial institution jobs like those he pulled off with McCauley’s crew are going the best way of the dinosaur.

Mann would love “Heat 2” to grow to be a big-screen film, and talks are within the works to make it the 79-year-old director’s subsequent movie after he wraps his present venture, “Ferrari,” starring Adam Driver, Penelope Cruz and Shailene Woodley and shot in Italy (therefore the Zoom from Rome). However time marches on in Hollywood too; the way forward for leisure seems to be the small display screen, which is what makes the novel, simply adaptable to movie or streaming, the perfect type.

“I think what we’re doing evolves so rapidly it’s impossible to predict what’s going to be the best way to make a presentation 18 months from now,” says Mann, who most lately directed the pilot of “Tokyo Vice” for HBO Max. “I love streaming, we really are in a continuing golden age. The writing and content on television is fantastic.” He shrugs, glancing at his pc. “But of course I want this on the big screen.”