The Robert De Niro Crime Classic On Netflix That Still Packs A Punch

By Phillip Moyer | Updated

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Robert De Niro in Heat

Robert De Niro is one of those actors who has appeared in so many classic movies that it’s hard to pin down just one as his greatest movie. However, the 1995 movie Heat, which follows a group of professional thieves as they try to outwit law enforcement after a heist gone wrong, is a contender for the top spot. Now, Netflix subscribers can see the movie themselves on the streaming service.

Heat, starring Robert De Niro, is streaming now on Netflix.

In Heat, Robert De Niro plays thief Neil McCauley whose plan to rob an armored car goes awry after one of his men kills a guard — forcing the crew to kill all the guards to avoid leaving any witnesses. After the murders, his crew is hunted by an LAPD lieutenant, played by Al Pacino. Meanwhile, the team of robbers attempts to perform one last heist so they can retire without being arrested.

Heat was a critical darling upon its release, with both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino’s performances being highly praised. The movie’s box office returns weren’t quite as sky-high as its review scores, however — it took in $67 million domestically on a $60 million budget.

Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer in Heat

However, this less-than-ideal domestic return was offset by the film making $120 million internationally, for a worldwide total of about $187 million. 

Heat was an extremely influential film after its release, leading to an endless string of imitators and movies that took inspiration from the 1995 film. For example, Christopher Nolan has stated that he drew from Heat when creating The Dark Knight, from the way it tells the story of a city to the way it mirrors the iconic restaurant scene with its interrogation sequence.

It also has a clear influence on the Ben Affleck-directed The Town, the French heist film The Crew, and the 2018 movie Den of Thieves, which mirrored Heat so closely that some people have accused it of practically being a remake.

French gangster Rédoine Faïd reportedly told director Michael Mann that he was the “technical adviser” for his crimes.

Heat also had an influence on both real-life criminals and the way that crimes were reported in the news. Armored car robberies similar to the ones carried out by Robert De Niro and his crew were reported across the world, in countries ranging from South Africa to Columbia to Norway.

French gangster Rédoine Faïd reportedly told director Michael Mann that he was the “technical adviser” for his crimes. The news media also compared the infamous 1997 North Hollywood shootout to the climax of Heat after the hourlong firefight left both bank robbers dead, with eight civilians and 12 police officers injured.

Robert De Niro And Crime Movies

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with Robert De Niro knows that crime films are his forte — from classics like Goodfellas and Taxi Driver to practically unknown movies like Righteous Kill and Cop Land. It’s such a well-known genre for De Niro that Martin Scorsese de-aged him in 2019 to play the role of union official and enforcer Frank Sheeran in The Irishman. 

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Robert De Niro in Heat

The veteran actor has two more crime films in the works — Wise Guys, which has De Niro playing notorious Italian-American mobster Vito Genovese, and After Exile, which has him play a man who served an eight-year prison sentence for involuntary murder.

Robert De Niro began his career with minor roles in the 1965 films Encounter and Three Rooms in Manhattan before getting a major part in Brian De Palma’s 1968 satirical film Greetings. His first role in a crime film was in Bloody Mama.

In 1971 Born to Win and The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight combined his comedy experience with his penchant for crime films, setting off another trend in his career that would lead to later comedic crime films such as Analyze ThisWe’re No Angels, and The Family.

Clocking in at 170 minutes, Heat is a marathon to watch all the way through — its initial VHS release had to include two separate tapes, much like other long films like The Godfather and Titanic. However, whether watched in one sitting or split up into smaller chunks, Heat is well worth seeing for any film aficionado. With the movie on Netflix, it’s never been easier for fans of Robert De Niro of crime films in general to watch the film.