Neil McCauley (Robert de Niro) is an orderly and calculating bank robber. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) is a disorderly and incautious Los Angeles cop on McCauley's trail. "Dispassion vs. passion, intellect vs. instinct, the implosive vs. the explosive style. As writer-director Michael Mann develops the duel between this cop and this robber in 'Heat', his film becomes a compassionate contemplation of the two most basic ways of being male and workaholic in modern America," says TIME's Richard Schickel. With what may be the best armored-car robbery ever placed on film, Schickel notes Mann is seeking not only to revive the urban action picture but to make a subtler point about cinematic violence: "Throughout the movie, he gives us a vision of Los Angeles that goes beyond the usual sheen-and-scuzz contrasts it amuses most directors to observe. His L.A. is a void, a blankness, something like an empty movie screen, or an empty modern soul, waiting to be filled up with that most hypnotic of abstractions, violent action. This, he's saying, is what some of us are good at. And, all pieties aside, look how much we like it."