Finally, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino together — and in a big way. But beware of focusing too much on the titans. This throbbing cop thriller offers excellent supporting performances all around, particularly from Val Kilmer. Director Michael Mann’s chess-match premise pits brilliant high-stakes thief (Neil MacCauley, De Niro) against a shrill and shrewd Los Angeles cop (Detective Vincent Hanna, Pacino).
Predictably, both thief and lawman are intense and tormented, their personal lives variously compromised — Diana Venora is impressive as Hanna’s weary wife. Ultimately, though, the cops and robbers story is based on friendship, obsession, and — most important — honor. Mann makes it intimate, even delicate, and violent when necessary. Yet this is about the titans, and they’re both delicious. Particularly memorable is a café scene where the adversaries finally face off.