Heat director Michael Mann shares a harsh critique of the current landscape of action cinema, calling modern action movies boring and “stale.” Mann is a four-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker known for his distinct style of crime drama. Some of his most acclaimed works are Thief, Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Collateral, and Public Enemies. Mann is currently making the rounds not for a film, but the novel Heat 2, which hit shelves earlier this month.
Released in 1995, Heat is a Los Angeles crime drama that follows a veteran LAPD detective played by Al Pacino, who is tasked with tracking a career criminal played by Robert De Niro, with the two engaging in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that begins to spill over into their personal lives. Written by Mann and Meg Gardiner, the Heat 2 novel acts as both a prequel and a sequel to the 1995 film. Mann is already planning to adapt Heat 2 into a feature film, and while the idea of it becoming a television series has been floated, the director seems committed to the big screen experience.
During a recent interview with Total Film magazine (via GamesRadar) promoting Heat 2, the conversation naturally wandered into the current landscape of cinema, with Mann sharing his candid thoughts on modern action movies. In the director’s earnest opinion, the genre’s current offerings are boring, uninteresting, and just plain “stale.” Read what Mann says below:
I’m just bored by it. It’s not very interesting. I mean, sometimes the choreography is so outrageous that it’s fascinating, and it is quite good. But generally, no. It’s just stale.
Mann’s comments are made more generally, and he does not name any specific action franchises or titles. Today, the action genre (and the box office altogether) is dominated by superheros, where the Marvel Cinematic Universe reigns supreme. If Mann did have the MCU in mind when making these comments, he’s the latest in a long line of acclaimed directors to criticize the franchise, including Martin Scorsese, Denis Villeneuve, Francis Ford Coppola, and Ridley Scott.
Even though the action genre is currently cornered by superheros, there are plenty of alternative offerings which Mann should be aware of, and likely enjoys. Christopher Nolan, whose Dark Knight trilogy was heavily influenced by Mann’s Heat, consistently makes unique and ambitious action movies, his latest being Tenet. The highest-grossing movie of 2022 is not a comic book blockbuster, but Top Gun: Maverick, which has avoided most of the common criticisms about modern action movies due to Tom Cruise’s commitment to practical filmmaking. That hit movie seems tailor-made for those like Mann, who have soured on the CGI-laden blockbusters that dominate the modern box-office landscape.
Source: Total Film magazine (via GamesRadar)