He doesn’t show much interest in his female characters, and there’s enough scenes set to the rhythms of synthesizer music to make me doubt his narrative sense, but Michael Mann has written and directed several sharp entertainments. As a quiet desperate marital drama, portrait of bureaucratic, boardroom cowardice, and vehicle for Al Pacino’s last convincing bout of yelling, The Insider remains unmatched. I show it in a media literacy course called How We Know What We Know as an example of the impact of whistleblowers. Fast forward past any scenes where Christopher Plummer’s Mike Wallace pontificates, though; it’s as if Mann regrets he didn’t direct Network.
Mann deserves credit too for making an infamously illegible nineteenth century novel a coherent, exciting film too, featuring one of Daniel Day-Lewis’ few star turns. Fans will endorse Thief, to me a film in which he’s still learning how to mitigate his indulgences; I confess not to get the casting of James Caan and Tuesday Weld, although Willie Nelson is a nice touch.
I regret not writing a review of Blackhat.
1. The Insider
2. The Last of the Mohicans
5. Miami Vice
6. The Keep
10. Public Enemies