I tilt forward in my seat. My heels rise. The balls of my feet press into the floor. My hands clench tight and I realize I’m holding my breath.
I’ve seen the film several times, yet the centerpiece shootout in downtown Los Angeles always elicits a visceral reaction.
The film plays as a cops-and-robbers story. Robert De Niro leads a crew of professional thieves taking down a series of Los Angeles scores. Al Pacino leads the cops in pursuit.
De Niro plans the heists with military precision, yet lives alone in a palatial seaside estate that could pass for vacant. Pacino hunts De Niro’s crew with obsessive fervor as his third marriage crumbles around him. They’re Hawksian archetypes—professions personified.
But back to the shootout. From the way the characters fire short bursts and reload to their tactical movements, every beat feels authentic. I remember the sustained adrenaline rush left me jittery after my first viewing. You don’t witness the scene; you experience it.