YMMV / Heat

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: It's left up in the air how sympathetic Neil and his crew are. Are they furious with Waingro and anxious to kill him because they are morally repulsed by his needless violence, or simply because his recklessness during the first heist brought them more police attention than they would have had if the guards hadn't been killed during the heist? Or is it both?
    • Also, did Neil abandon Eady due to his "being able to leave something in 30 seconds" rule or because he realized how screwed he was and didn't want Eady to get convicted with him? Or is there even a hint of "wait a second, did you call the cops on me here?" betrayal and grief in his expression?
  • Complete Monster: Waingro is an Ax-Crazy Psycho for Hire hired by criminal Neil McCauley to help in the robbery of an armored truck. When one of the guards "looks at him funny," Waingro plugs a bullet in his forehead, necessitating the deaths of the other two guards to eliminate witnesses, turning a bloodless robbery into a triple homicide. His accomplices, disgusted at Waingro's actions, try to kill him in retribution but Waingro manages to escape. To get revenge on his accomplices for the attempted murder, Waingro approaches Roger Van Zant, whose bearer bonds the group stole from the truck, and offers to work for him. Waingro tracks down Trejo, holds Trejo's wife hostage, forces Trejo to sellout information on his crew's bank heist, and then leaks that information to the cops. This leads to the shootout with the cops, which leads to Cheritto and Breedan getting killed, as well as numerous LAPD officers, including Bosko. Waingro then murders Trejo's wife and beats Trejo half to death, but refuses to kill Trejo himself because it's more painful for Trejo to leave him live. Instead, McCauley kills Trejo at the latter's request. Waingro is also a Serial Killer of underage prostitutes, whom he solicits then kills by bashing their skulls in. Neil and his crew may be criminals and killers, but they still have honor and standards. Waingro is just a psychopathic maniac.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The final shots of the movie before the credits where Hanna holds McCauley's hand as he dies are set to Moby's "God Moves Over The Face of the Waters". And it is glorious.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The film is known for the climatic bank robbery scene, where Neil and his gang get into a gunfight with the police and shoot up Downtown LA with automatic rifles. Then, two years after the movie's release, the North Hollywood shootout happened as two gunmen robbed a bank, then were killed after a 44 minute shootout with the Los Angeles Police Department. No police officers were killed in the North Hollywood shootout, but some were badly wounded, and remember, this shootout was six times longer than the film's shootout, which lasts just under seven minutes. It's also of note that the robbers of the North Hollywood Shootout reportedly watched this film numerous times.
    • Seeing Shiherlis' marital issues throughout the film become this due to Val Kilmer going through similar issues of infidelity within his own marriage which eventually led to his divorce the following year.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Ted Levine and Mykelti Williamson play two of Hanna's detectives, Bosko and Drucker respectively. They'd later meet again on Monk in "Mr. Monk Takes Manhattan," where their respective characters, SFPD Captain Leland Stottlemeyer and NYPD Captain Walter Cage, had a lot of friction and hostility towards each other.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Both Hanna and Shiherlis could count. Granted, they have issues with their wives cheating on them.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The audience already knows that Waingro is an unstable and violent character after he shoots the first guard during the armored car robbery at point-blank range for no good reason, but the scene where he kills the prostitute, then the scene where Hanna visits the crime scene of another one of Waingro's victims, exists solely to push him into this in order to demonstrate how Neil and his friends, while still violent criminals, are much better people than him, even though Neil and his crew members use assault rifles during the bank robbery shootout and bring down several cops, and kill at least one detective. This also serves to make a distinction, however; Neil and his crew take no pleasure in killing, viewing it as an unpleasant but necessary possibility of what they do, while Waingro is sadistic and actively takes pleasure in cruel murder.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The entire shootout scene could count as this.
    • Waingro; a psychopathic serial killer who seeks pleasure in his kills and has no remorse for those who have met their end at his hands.
    • Trejo's death scene. By the time Mc Cauley has found him, his wife has been murdered and he's lying near-death in a pool of blood, barely able to speak.
    • Hanna's stepdaughter's attempted suicide, where he finds her lying in a bathtub in a pool of bloodied water with her wrists and legs cut.
    • Waingro's death; his dying gasp before Mc Cauley unloads on his brains is deeply unsettling.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Unusually, it's a one scene pairing. The two lead characters spend the whole movie plotting against one another, but never meet and aren't on screen together except for one great scene where they sit down and have coffee (see Not So Different) and the final showdown. Notable, because it's the first time Al Pacino and Robert De Niro ever did a scene together.
    • Additionally, Jeremy Piven shows up as the doctor who treats Chris after the bank heist.
  • Retroactive Recognition: A young Natalie Portman, aka the future Padme Amidala / Jane Foster, as Hanna's stepdaughter Lauren Gustafson.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Neil has quite the following despite being ultimately a bank robber, murderer, and all-around bad guy. This was probably at least partially intentional, though, given the amount of Character Development he gets.