Michael Mann has made some of the best movies of all time, but his pièce de résistance has to be the thriller movie Heat. One scene from that movie in particular is so good that it’s used by the actual Marines for their training.
The ‘90s movie stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Val Kilmer among others, in a cat-and-mouse story of cops and robbers in Los Angeles. It’s a film brimming with incredible moments, from huge action movie set-pieces, to more intimate, tension-filled conversations.
The epic shootout scene that comes after a big bank robbery is considered one of, if not the best action sequence in cinematic history, and it’s so effective that the military use it for their training videos.
The scene, which sees De Niro’s Neil McCauley, Kilmer’s Chris Shiherlis, and Tom Sizemore’s Michael Cheritto take on Pacino’s Lieutenant Vincent Hanna in a blistering standoff, required so much training to get everything right. There’s assault rifles, bullet-proof vests, and absolute chaos, but it’s all planned out perfectly by Mann and his team.
In behind the scenes clips from the movie (shared here), Mann explains how he ensured every actor had inch-perfect preparation in handling the weapons and carrying out the scene to deliver maximum authenticity. Clearly, it worked, because Kilmer heard his own action in the movie was picked up by the Marines to use in their training.
“I heard something really flattering. There’s a shot where I run out of bullets, I change a mag, and I go back to firing. I think it’s the Marines, they show the clip and say ‘Tell those maggots if you can’t change a clip as fast as this actor then get out of my army,'” Kilmer explained.