The Aviator

  • Directors: Martin Scorsese
  • Producers: Michael Mann, Sandy Climan, Graham King, Charles Evans Jr
  • Writers: John Logan, Michael Mann
  • Genres: Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, John C Reilly, Ian Holm, Kate Beckinsale, Jude Law, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Brent Spiner, Frances Conroy, Willem Defoe

The Aviator has no opening credits other than the title. The film begins in 1914 with nine-year-old Hughes being bathed by his mother, who warns him of disease: “You are not safe.”

The film next shows him in 1927, as a 22-year old preparing to direct Hell’s Angels. Hiring Noah Dietrich (John C. Reilly) to run Hughes Tool Company, while he oversees the flight sequences for the film, Hughes becomes obsessed with shooting the film realistically, even re-shooting the dogfight himself. By 1929, with the silent film finally complete, Hughes realizes the premiere of the The Jazz Singer, which was the first part-talking film, means that sound films would soon become the industry standard. Hughes re-shoots Hell’s Angels with sound, costing another year and $1.7 million. Hell’s Angels released as a sound film in 1930 is a huge hit, and Hughes also produces Scarface (1932) and The Outlaw (1943). However, there is one goal he relentlessly pursues: aviation. During this time, he also pursues Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett). The two go to nightclubs, play golf and fly together, and as they grow closer, move in together as well. During this time Hepburn becomes a major supporter and confidant to Hughes, and helps alleviate the symptoms of his obsessive-compulsive disorder. As Hughes’ fame grows, he is seen with more starlets.

Hughes successfully test flies the flying boat himself. After the flight, he talks to Dietrich and his mechanic, Glenn Odekirk (Matt Ross), about a new jetliner for TWA (the Avro C102 Jetliner) and makes a date with Gardner at a celebration party on the Long Beach shoreline. Hughes seems free of his inner demons until he sees three attendants in business suits and white gloves edging towards him, which triggers an obsessive-compulsive fit as he begins repeating “The way of the future.” Dietrich and Odekirk take Hughes in a bathroom and hide him there, while Dietrich fetches a doctor and Odekirk stands outside guarding the door. Alone inside, Howard has a flashback to his boyhood, being washed by his mother and resolving he will fly the fastest aircraft ever built, make the biggest movies ever and become the richest man in the world. As the film ends he mutters “the way of the future… the way of the future” into a darkened mirror.

Heat

  • Directors: Michael Mann
  • Producers: Michael Mann, Art Linson
  • Writers: Michael Mann
  • Genres: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, Amy Brenneman, Ashley Judd, Mykelti Williamson, Wes Studi, Ted Levine, Dennis Haysbert, William Fichtner, Natalie Portman, Tom Noonan, Kevin Gage, Hank Azaria, Danny Trejo, and Jon Voight

Career thief Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) leads a team of criminals, including longtime friends Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), Michael Cheritto (Tom Sizemore), and Trejo (Danny Trejo), who carry out a carefully planned armored car heist, stealing US$1.6 million in bearer bonds from Malibu Equity Investments, a shell company run by Roger Van Zant (William Fichtner) that launders drug money through offshore bank accounts. The robbery is complicated by new member Waingro (Kevin Gage) impulsively murdering a guard, forcing the team to execute the remaining guards—potential witnesses—and escape. After the robbery, McCauley meets with his fence, Nate (Jon Voight), who suggests selling the bonds back to Van Zant for 60% of their value instead of laundering them at 60% cost; since the bonds were insured for 100% of their value, Van Zant would make 40% of 1.6 million above his bond insurance while McCauley and his team would gain an additional 20% on top of their expected take.

Later, McCauley and his crew meet at a diner to discuss dividing the money from the robbery. Enraged about the robbery, escalated to capital murder by Waingro, McCauley and his crew attempt to kill Waingro, but when a passing police car distracts them, Waingro escapes. Meanwhile, Van Zant agrees to buy the bonds back, but instructs his men to ambush McCauley at the meeting and take the bonds back. With help from his crew, McCauley escapes the ambush and vows revenge.

McCauley returns to Eady and breaks his longstanding creed, compelling her to flee with him to New Zealand. As he finalizes his plans, Nate reveals Waingro’s whereabouts to McCauley. Confident with his escape plan, McCauley impulsively takes the bait and infiltrates the hotel, activating the fire alarm to vacate the hotel. With the hotel security and police distracted, McCauley barges in and murders Waingro before beginning his escape. Moments later, Hanna arrives at the hotel and from a distance observes Eady waiting in McCauley’s car. As he approaches, McCauley emerges from the building and noticing Hanna, hesitantly defaults to his “thirty seconds” rule and abandons Eady, disappearing into the crowd with Hanna in pursuit. Following a tense cat-and-mouse chase in the darkness of the LAX freight terminal, McCauley nearly gets the drop on Hanna, but Hanna manages to shoot McCauley first, leaving him clinging to life in the fields of the adjoining runways. Hanna holds McCauley’s hand as a mark of mutual respect. Together, the two share a final, quiet moment of reflection and understanding as McCauley dies.

Collateral

  • Directors: Michael Mann
  • Producers: Michael Mann, Julie Richardson
  • Writers: Stuart Beattie, Michael Mann, Frank Darabont
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Mark Ruffalo, Jada Pinkett Smith, Javier Bardem

Cab driver Max Durocher (Jamie Foxx) drives U.S. Justice Department prosecutor Annie Farrell (Jada Pinkett Smith) to work. During the drive, she tells him about an upcoming case she’s prosecuting and he tells her about his dream of owning his own limousine service. When they arrive at the Justice Department building, Annie leaves him her business card. Moments later, Max picks up a man named Vincent (Tom Cruise), who was seen earlier exchanging a briefcase with a stranger played by Jason Statham at Los Angeles International Airport.

Vincent directs him to a tenement building, and impressed with Max’s efficiency, asks him to be his personal chauffeur for his remaining stops. Max reluctantly agrees when Vincent offers to pay him double his normal nightly profit. Vincent instructs him to park in an adjacent alley while he enters the building. Minutes later, a body drops onto the cab, cracking the windshield and propelling Max out of the cab. He realizes Vincent killed the man. Unable to escape, he is forced to help Vincent put the body in the trunk of the cab.

Vincent reveals that he is a hitman, and that he is in Los Angeles to murder five people before departing in the morning. Originally hoping to keep his occupation a secret, Vincent forces Max to drive him to his other destinations. Upon reaching the second target, Vincent ties Max to the steering wheel of the cab in order to make sure he doesn’t run away while Vincent makes the second kill. While alone, Max tries to arouse the attention of passers by in order to free him, but the people that walk up to the cab turn out to be street thugs, and steal Max’s wallet and Vincent’s briefcase. As they walk away, Vincent appears and asks for the briefcase back. The thugs refuse, and then attempt to rob Vincent, who knocks one thug’s gun and performs the Mozambique Drill, shooting both thugs twice in the chest and once in the head.

Spotting the handgun Vincent left behind, Max overpowers the policeman and cuffs him to the flipped cab before running toward Annie’s office building, where he discovers the building security guard is dead and his handgun is missing. He reaches Annie on a stolen cell phone and warns her about Vincent’s approach. Max enters the building and stops the assassination attempt by shooting at Vincent, grazing his face; he then flees with Annie to the Metrorail station under the building. With the guard’s handgun, an angry Vincent follows and corners them in an empty rail car. Vincent and Max fire at each other through a closed door, with Max escaping injury by stepping to the side as the rail car’s lights flicked off, and shooting through the glass, fatally wounding Vincent who had used his routine manner of killing and attempted to perform the Mozambique drill on Max through the door, missing. Dropping his gun and collapsing into a seat, Vincent waits for death as Max and Annie silently look on. Vincent sardonically asks Max if anybody will notice he has died, echoing an earlier story of Vincent’s about a man who died on the MTA and sat undiscovered by LA commuters for hours. Max and Annie get off the train at the next station while the train continues toward Long Beach with dawn breaking, and with a now dead Vincent sitting slumped in his seat.

Hancock

  • Directors: Peter Berg
  • Producers: Akiva Goldsman, James Lassiter, Michael Mann, Will Smith
  • Writers: Vince Gilligan, Vincent Ngo
  • Genres: Action, Comedy, Crime, Fantasy, Thriller
  • Actors: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman

John Hancock (Will Smith) is a drunkard with superhuman powers, including supersonic flight, invulnerability, immortality, and super-strength. Although he uses his powers to rescue people and stop criminals, his activities inadvertently cause millions of dollars in property damage due to his constant intoxication and cynical attitude. As a result, he is routinely jeered by the public and is considered a nuisance by the LAPD. Hancock frequently ignores court subpoenas and lawsuits from the city of Los Angeles to address the property damage he has caused.

When public relations spokesperson Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) departs from an unsuccessful meeting pitching his All-Heart logo for corporations that want to be seen as charitable, he becomes trapped on railroad tracks facing collision with an oncoming freight train. Hancock saves Ray’s life at the cost of derailing the train and damaging other cars. Hancock is jeered by other drivers for causing more destruction, but Ray steps in and thanks Hancock for saving his life. Ray offers to improve Hancock’s public image, and Hancock grudgingly accepts. Ray convinces Hancock to turn himself in for his outstanding subpoenas so they can show Los Angeles how much the city really needs Hancock when they miss him fighting crime and saving lives. When the crime rate does rise following his incarceration, Hancock is contacted by the Chief of Police to help stop a violent bank robbery. With a new costume from Ray, Hancock is released from jail and makes a triumphant return by rescuing a wounded police officer, and foiling the robbers lead by Red Parker (Eddie Marsan).

Hancock meets Ray and Mary back at their house. Mary explains that Hancock is technically her husband, explaining that they were built in twos, and that they are drawn to each other over time and great distances. When later intervening in a liquor store robbery, Hancock is shot and wounded. Visiting him at the Hospital, Mary explains that when a pair of immortals get close to each other physically, they begin to lose their powers. She also tells him that she and Hancock have been attacked as a couple many times throughout history, most recently being in an alley in Miami 80 years ago. His skull was fractured during the attack, causing amnesia. To save his life at the time, Mary deserted him, allowing him to recover from his injuries. After her explanation, the hospital is raided by the bank robber Red Parker and two other criminals that Hancock had encountered when imprisoned. Mary is shot trying to defend Hancock as he is able to stop the two men, but is further wounded in the process. When Red attempts to finish Hancock off, Ray comes to the rescue and stops the bank robber with a fire axe. With Mary dying, Hancock uses the last of his strength to flee from the hospital so that their parting would allow them both to heal with their powers. Hancock is now living in New York City, working as a superhero there. As gratitude to Ray, Hancock paints Ray’s All-Heart logo on the moon, giving worldwide advertisement to his cause.

Public Enemies

  • Directors: Michael Mann
  • Producers: Michael Mann, Kevin Misher
  • Writers: Screenplay, Ronan Bennett, Ann Biderman, Michael Mann, Book, Bryan Burrough
  • Genres: Crime, Drama
  • Actors: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum

FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Bale) sets his sights on American gangster John Dillinger (Depp) and others in an attempt to curb a rampant Chicago crime spree during the 1930s.