Codes, chaos, and the world of Heat

The Dissolve’s Scott Tobias writes on key themes in Michael Mann’s crime epic:

And that’s the other side of Heat’s symmetrical relationships: There’s Cop and Crook, Pacino and De Niro, Order and Chaos. We can admire Neil’s skill, as Mann does, while understanding that the criminal life he’s trying to lead—disciplined, elegant, orchestrated with multiple exits and down-to-the-second timing—is a folly from the start. It’s folly to bring an untested, unstable con on the armed-truck job. It’s a folly to steal bonds from a sleazy hedge-fund manager (William Fichtner) and expect him to buy them back without consequence. It’s folly to open up his home and heart to a woman he’ll have to leave in 30 seconds if he feels the heat around the corner. And it’s folly to seek revenge when self-preservation is the most rational option. “A man got to have a code,” Omar says in The Wire, but having a code, as Neil does, and actually abiding by it are two different things. Sometimes, the plan goes out the window.