Billed as a prequel and sequel to Heat, the director's new novel also connects to his other films in various thematic and aesthetic ways.
Heat 2 by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner

Heat 2

Michael Mann's first novel is out this week, and it is billed as both a prequel and sequel to his most popular film. The title is simple enough: Heat 2. But though the book (co-written with crime novelist Meg Gardiner) catches readers up with what memorable Heat characters like Al Pacino's Vincent Hanna and Val Kilmer's Chris Shiherlis were doing both in the years before and after the events of the 1995 L.A. crime saga, it also interweaves with ideas and themes from several other Mann films as well.

Here are all the references we found!

Michael Mann movies
Willie Nelson and James Caan in 'Thief.'
| Credit: Everett Collection


Mann was born and raised in Chicago, and you can still hear the accent in his voice when he gives interviews. His first few films were set there and were suffused with the Windy City's specific flavor of crime. Thief surrounded star James Caan with real-life cops and criminals from Chicago (some of whom, like Dennis Farina, went on to have full-fledged acting careers) and thus imbued its story of high-stakes diamond theft with a lived-in authenticity that Mann has brought to his subsequent projects.

Heat is famously set in L.A., where Mann has lived for decades, but it is based on real-life cops and criminals from Chicago. The real-life bank robber Neil McCauley (whose name went unchanged for Robert De Niro's screen portrayal) was killed by real-life Chicago cop Chuck Adamson (the loose basis for Hanna) in 1964. In keeping with this history, the sections of Heat 2 that take place before the events of the film are mostly set in Chicago. Readers see Hanna working as a detective there in the late '80s, tracking down a serial rapist and home burglar named Otis Wardell — and don't worry, the plot ends up providing a pretty satisfying explanation for why Hanna eventually left the city and ended up in L.A.

Before that, we're treated to inside knowledge of Chicago policing and politics — Hanna dismissively notes that his superior officer doesn't care about catching Wardell so much as "he cares about greasing the machine: Cook County, city hall, the CPD brass, or the Outfit machine" — and lots of local history. At one point, Hanna ponders how his family started as "immigrants from Lombardy who came to work the accessible clay deposits into bricks and the stone left standing when the glaciers slid by to the east."

Michael Mann movies
Al Pacino as Lowell Bergman and Russell Crowe as Jeffrey Wigand in 'The Insider.'
| Credit: Everett Collection

The Insider

The Insider is an interesting outlier in Mann's filmography. Like many of his films, it portrays expert criminals and the professionals tasked with stopping them. But instead of cops chasing bank robbers, The Insider is about hard-nosed journalists digging up the secrets that tobacco corporations hid from the public. Pacino stars as 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman, while Russell Crowe plays former tobacco executive-turned-whistleblower, Jeffrey Wigand.

If you're familiar with that film, there's a moment in Heat 2 that will make you smile. In the wake of the botched bank robbery depicted in Heat, Chris Shiherlis flees L.A. and ends up in South America with a new alias: "Jeffrey Bergman," a portmanteau of The Insider protagonists' names.

But there's also another connection. The opening scene of The Insider finds Bergman blindfolded in the back of a van, being escorted through Lebanon in order to secure an interview between his star reporter and the leader of Hezbollah. When Chris ends up in a Paraguayan free trade zone called Ciudad del Este in Heat 2, he remarks that Hezbollah fighters are one of the main groups to have immigrated to the City of the East and he often notices Lebanese people around the city.

Michael Mann movies
Colin Farrell and Gong Li in 'Miami Vice.'
| Credit: Everett Collection

Miami Vice

Fans of the Miami Vice TV series were understandably disappointed when the 2006 film version replaced the flashy cars and Italian suits with a grimy, documentary-style look at international crime in the age of globalized neoliberalism. But fans who have come to regard the Miami Vice movie as an underrated masterpiece will be excited to know that Mann is still very interested in this topic, and even describes it in much the same way.

Over the course of Miami Vice, what first seems like a simple undercover drug smuggling operation becomes a window into a breathtakingly complex international cartel that traffics not just drugs but guns, technology, and all kinds of other goods. When reporting their finds to superiors, Miami detectives Crockett (Colin Farrell) describes the castle's leader Arcángel de Jesús Montoya (Luis Tosar) as "the new news." When Chris Shiherlis comes face to face with the reality of Ciudad del Este, where everything's for sale and crime is just business, he describes this end-of-history every-man-for-himself environment as "the new new."

That's not the only similarity between Crockett and Chris. Employed by the Liu crime family in Ciudad del Este, Chris falls for the brilliant Ana Liu — whose tactical genius and intuitive understanding of the new economy are overlooked by her patriarchal father in favor of her party boy brother. Chris and Ana are not a match meant to last — he will eventually have to return to the family he abandoned in L.A. at the end of Heat, while she can't date the hired muscle when an arranged match could bring her family greater power — but that makes their connection even more romantic. As Ana says to Chris, since their relationship has "no future," there is "nothing to worry about" in terms of connecting too deeply. That's almost exactly the same exchange Crockett and Isabella (Gong Li) have while pondering their own love affair in Miami Vice.

Does Chris and Ana's love affair end up any better than theirs? We won't spoil it. You'll just have to read Heat 2 for yourself.

Michael Mann movies
Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in 'Blackhat.'
| Credit: Everett Collection


In the midst of Heat 2's publication, Mann is currently filming Ferrari with Adam Driver in Italy. This is exciting news for the director's fans because when released, Ferrari will be his first feature film in almost a decade. Seven years ago, Blackhat flopped hard at the box office, but not before delivering a further exploration of the international crime depicted in Miami Vice.

Except that by 2015, Mann understood that big-money robberies no longer take the form of urban shootouts between cops and gangsters. Now it happens on the internet, with even further global reach. Heat 2's chronology ends in 2000, several years removed from the era of the hacker named Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth), but it reflects the global rise of computer technology and Asian economies that are both so central to Blackhat.

The connective tissue between the two stories is Kelso, the computer expert played by Tom Noonan in Heat. He shows up again in Heat 2 to help Chris and Ana with their cybersecurity, and Chris reflects that Kelso is always "ahead of the curve" — much like Mann himself.

Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.

Related content:

Heat 2 by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner
Heat 2

Co-written by director Michael Mann and novelist Meg Gardiner, this book is both a prequel and a sequel to Heat, following characters before and after the events of the 1995 crime film.


  • Book