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Philippe

L.A. Takedown

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Philippe    20
Philippe

First of all, let me tell you that I absolutely adore L.A. Takedown. I noticed there are two kinds of people when it comes to this movie; those who didn't like it (or downright hated it) because they find it dated, that the acting is truly horrible, two dimensional and because it didn't have a big budget and was made for tv. And there are those like myself who find it excellent, even better than Heat actually.

I personally think it never received enough credit and therefor I wanted to start this threat and share my views on this highly underrated gem.

I once read it was created as a possible follow up series to MV that never took off, but I cannot confirm this.

L.A. Takedown is classic Michael Mann, in fact it has Michael Mann written all over it.

It's a neo-noir / hardboiled cops and robbers story.  Therefor it's no surprise that things are set In L.A - the dame of angels has since long been the backdrop of countless noir stories and movies.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the noir genre, one of it's defining characteristics is that instead of shooting film in fabricated sets in a studio using cranes, dollies and expensive lighting setups, noir filmakers would often use real city backdrops with fairly inexpensive camera and lighting setups. Often working with much smaller budgets and smaller crews than full fledged Hollywood productions. Working that way they would also  inadvertently and in retrospect leave a record of an era that was no more.

We can already see that several boxes are being ticked when it comes to L.A. Takedown and noir: Real city backdrops - check! Small budget and crew - check! Testimony of a bygone era - check!

That's not where it ends either, because of the small budget, filmmakers in the noir genre often would have to be much more creative in the way they bring the story to their audience. When shooting in black and white they would very often use techniques borrowed from classic art forms like expressionism. Underlining already dramatic storytelling by the use of intense visual contrast by pitch black shadows created by single point lighting as used by Italian renaissance painters called Chiaroscuro. The departure from noir into neo-noir would as is the case with L.A. Takedown be that instead of shooting in black and white with intense contrasts, they would shoot in color and use other visual tricks to enhance the story.

And that's exactly where the genius of Micheal Mann emerges, right from the get go Mann introduces a subtle but clearly noticeable 'pace' in L.A. Takedown. Throughout the whole movie there's a "rhythm" skillfully created by blending all the required audio-visual ingredients. As we all know by now, Mann has this uncanny talent to use the right music at exactly the right moment. Yes, he even use a track from MV in one of the scenes - but then you must understand that it's his M.O. - Mann is known for his re-use of music (yes, even from other movies).

But this pace is not only to be attributed by the use of music with the visuals or the way the scenes are skillfully entwined with for example fantastic areal night shots of LA skyscrapers , the whole time you can see it in the actors too - they are always moving! Even during what seems like small conversations they keep doing things or handling objects. Coincidence you think? I don't think so!

If you pay attention you'll notice that there's a moment where this pace, this rhythm actually stops for a brief moment to further enhance and accentuate a pivotal moment in the movie, you guessed it; it's the epic coffee shop scene where both pro- and antagonist meet face to face. By the way, this larger than life confrontation is rumored to have actually really happened! 

What's more, I think the acting and general performance of all the actors is actually very sharp and to the point - some people have claimed it to be wooden or uni-dimensional, but forgive me for not agreeing at all, because I really don't know what they expected? To me playing it flat and not very colorful or expressive is exactly what is required for guys that spend their days doing what they do.

There's some great dialogue in there too, so all in all I consider this a outstanding movie that has everything to be considered excellent.


 

 

Edited by Philippe
typo
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Tommy Vercetti    181
Tommy Vercetti

I like LAT too. It's an enjoyable TV movie and a more digestible version of Heat. 
It has a faster and brisker pace which is a good thing. It's half the length of Heat and it tells the same story very effectively. The cast in LAT is good and they do a good job. It and Heat both have their own virtues. 

Heat and The Insider are great films but they are way too long. They would've been even better if they were both only two hours. There's also way too much stuff in Heat. We don't really need to see the entire backstory of the getaway driver. He isn't that important.

It is cool how Heat is almost an urban version of The Wild Bunch. DeNiro is William Holden and Pacino is Robert Ryan

Here's the Mann himself talking about it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvkFi72cAbY

 

Edited by Tommy Vercetti
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Philippe    20
Philippe

Absolutely, I totally agree that both Heat and the Insider while being great on their own are too long and I also think that the whole backstory of the getaway driver was unnecessary. 

I must admit it's been to long ago since I actually saw The Wild Bunch, but I can definitely see the parallels.

Great stuff on the clip with Mann speaking about it, thanks for sharing Tommy!

 

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Tommy Vercetti    181
Tommy Vercetti

The only actor to appear in both films is Xander Berkeley

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agent 47    247
agent 47

It's a shame that L.A. Takedown isn't more widely known and distributed (the only DVD available so far is a U.K. release back in 2000). While it's on a smaller scale than Heat it's still a great part of Michael Mann's filmography and like all the work he did in the eighties is tightly paced and features some great camerawork. I mean just look at the bank robbery and following gun battle. While the one from Heat is still one of the best filmed Takedown did have some magnificent camera work and still captured some of the intensity of it all.

 

By the way, the coffee scene did happen as Neil McCauley was a real criminal.

Quote

In 1961, McCauley was transferred from Alcatraz to McNeil, as mentioned in the film, and he was released in 1962. Upon his release, he immediately began planning new heists. With ex-cons Michael Parille and William Pinkerton they used bolt cutters and drills to burglarize a manufacturing company of diamond drill bits, a scene which is closely recreated in the film.[10] Detective Chuck Adamson, upon whom Al Pacino's character is largely based, began keeping tabs on McCauley’s crew around this time, knowing that he had become active again. The two even met for coffee once, just as portrayed in the film.[9] Their dialogue in the script was almost exactly word for word the conversation that McCauley and Adamson had.[10] The next time the two would meet, guns would be drawn, just as the movie portrays.[9]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_(1995_film)#Historical_background

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Tommy Vercetti    181
Tommy Vercetti

The camerawork is really good in the shootout, as is the editing. Although it's shorter than the shootout in Heat it's still a very good sequence. I think the conversation in LAT is good too. While the actors are no Pacino and DeNiro they still did a good job

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Philippe    20
Philippe

I agree with both of you! To me, it's also the 80s aesthetics of LAT that works better compared to 90s of Heat.

In that interview Mann states they only had 10 days of pre-production and 19 days schedule -  I think this greatly adds to the overall feel of the movie because it's almost like a heist crew itself. They go in get the job done and then finish - this requires a energy that somehow transpires through the movie. Mann had to think outside of his comfort zone - and I believe that can be a great thing.

 

It's also interesting to read some of texts on billboards or posters in the background like "United Snakes" or "Get a grip"... I dunno I just love small details like that.

 

Edited by Philippe
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Tommy Vercetti    181
Tommy Vercetti

It would be good if LA TAkedown got a Shout Factory or Scream Factory release

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Philippe    20
Philippe
3 hours ago, Tommy Vercetti said:

It would be good if LA TAkedown got a Shout Factory or Scream Factory release

They recently released Manhunter, so who knows? But indeed that would be awesome!

 

Btw, check out this badass poster design done by the legendary Italian illustrator Enzo Sciotti:

1fbb949212f72b7784b01f7bf678504c.jpg

Edited by Philippe
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Tommy Vercetti    181
Tommy Vercetti

Any thoughts on which actors were better. Al Pacino or Scott Plank. Robert DeNiro or Alex MacArthur.

I don't actually think Heat is among Pacino and DeNiro's greatest performances. I love Al but there were a few outbursts too many from him and DeNiro gives one of his minimalist performances where he downplays it too much and lets his expressions do the talking.

Scott Plank and Alex McArthur get bashed and called porno movie quality actors but I think they both did a good job and played their parts well

Edited by Tommy Vercetti

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Philippe    20
Philippe
7 hours ago, Tommy Vercetti said:

Any thoughts on which actors were better. Al Pacino or Scott Plank. Robert DeNiro or Alex MacArthur.

I don't actually think Heat is among Pacino and DeNiro's greatest performances. I love Al but there were a few outbursts too many from him and DeNiro gives one of his minimalist performances where he downplays it too much and lets his expressions do the talking.

Scott Plank and Alex McArthur get bashed and called porno movie quality actors but I think they both did a good job and played their parts well

In my opinion, Heat became to much of a "Pacino meets DeNiro" movie - and that just took away from the story. Don't get me wrong, they sure are great actors that can portray great characters but in Heat it was to much about the actors (surely not intended) and therefor less about the actual persons they were supposed to portray. 

Scott Plank and Alex McArthur played the parts as it was intended, what the naysayers may actually forget is that the type of people portrayed here are professionals that are focused on what they are doing. There's no John Gotti type glamour with guys like that and irl more often than not these are the type of people with minimal emotions, especially the criminals. They just look right through you.

The beauty of LA Takedown is that you see both perspectives, not only in their professional endeavours but also what kind of toll has to be payed when it comes down to romantic relationships. 
In Heat they tried to add more perspectives, more things that in the end only dragged the whole concept down IMO.

 

One last thing is that to me anyway, LA Takedown has that kind of aesthetic quality (which one may or may not appreciate) very similar to Manhunter. People kinda wave it away as being typical 80s but to me this really isn't the case as many 80s movies were very much still steeped in a somewhat brownish 70s demeanor so to speak.

Edited by Philippe
typo

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Matt5    1,919
Matt5

I must watch this movie to see how it differs from "Heat" 

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Tommy Vercetti    181
Tommy Vercetti

mannlatakedown.jpg'

Edited by Tommy Vercetti
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Detective_Crockett    388
Detective_Crockett

Saw this movie the other day in CEX for 10p? :) maybe I should have bought it now.. I'm curious, the cover of the DVD did say "Michael Mann's Blueprints for Heat" 

As a Heat fan I definitely should check out L.A. Takedown, seems interesting, that cover is also badass as hell.

Certainly has an interesting cast, I do love Michael Rooker, fantastic actor, I like how they kept the name Vincent Hanna, but why did they change Patrick to Neil? 

Edited by Detective_Crockett
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Vincent Hanna    487
Vincent Hanna

I watched LA Takedown on Youtube:D, it's a cool little tv movie. The first time watching It I couldn't unsee it as a B-version of "Heat" but it does work as it's own thing. The chick from "Junk Love" plays Scott Plank's wife and is the highlight Imo. (Oh and they changed the Neil Mccauley character's name to Mcclaren for some reason lol)

You should pick up Jericho Mile too, saw that for first time recently and enjoyed it. "Are you going to tell me they invented a time you can't handle?". Peter Strauss was awesome.

Edited by Vincent Hanna
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Detective_Crockett    388
Detective_Crockett
18 minutes ago, Vincent Hanna said:

I watched LA Takedown on Youtube:D, it's a cool little tv movie. The first time watching It I couldn't unsee it as a B-version of "Heat" but it does work as it's own thing. The chick from "Junk Love" plays Scott Plank's wife and is the highlight Imo. (Oh and they changed the Neil Mccauley character's name to Mcclaren for some reason lol)

You should pick up Jericho Mile too, saw that for first time recently and enjoyed it. "Are you going to tell me they invented a time you can't handle?". Peter Strauss was awesome.

How weird, I just watched Junk Love :)

Jericho Mile? Yeah I've been meaning to give that one a go. 

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