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.

Black Hawk Down

  • Directors: Ridley Scott
  • Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Ridley Scott
  • Writers: Book, Mark Bowden, Screenplay, Ken Nolan
  • Genres: Action, Drama, History, War
  • Actors: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, Eric Bana, Brendan Sexton III, Sam Shepard, Ewen Bremner, Jason Isaacs, Orlando Bloom

In a raid, a task force of Delta Force soldiers, Army Rangers, and Special Operations Aviation Regiment attempt to capture two of Mohammed Farah Aidid’s senior subordinates in the Bakaara Market neighborhood of Mogadishu. The mission is led by Major General William F. Garrison and was supposed to take no more than one hour. The extraction by the Delta team is successful, but the Somali militia, armed with RPGs, shoot down two Black Hawk helicopters, and the resulting rescue extends the mission to over 15 hours.

The film follows many characters through the build-up, assault and rescue. It shows how Staff Sergeant Matt Eversmann was placed in charge of Ranger Chalk Four, before portraying the raid and successful extraction of the wanted persons, and shows the first injury, as PFC Todd Blackburn falls from a helicopter as it maneuvers to avoid an RPG. This is the beginning of the indication that the troops are overwhelmed by the volume of enemy militia, and builds up to the two helicopter crashes: Super Six-One piloted by Cliff “Elvis” Wolcott, and Super Six-Four piloted by Mike Durant. Durant is taken prisoner after the two Delta snipers who requested to be inserted near the crash site of Super Six-Four are killed while defending him.

The film ends with text informing the viewer that “19 Americans and approximately 1000 Somalis died in the conflict. Mike Durant was released and Mohamed Farrah Aidid died in 1996”.

Pearl Harbor

  • Directors: Michael Bay
  • Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Bay
  • Writers: Randall Wallace
  • Genres: Action, Romance, War
  • Actors: Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding Jr, Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, Colm Feore, Mako and, Alec Baldwin

Childhood friends from Tennessee U.S. Army Air Corps First Lieutenants Rafe McCawley (Affleck) and Danny Walker (Hartnett) are reckless, but talented pilots under the command of Major Jimmy Doolittle (Baldwin). McCawley volunteers for the Eagle Squadrons serving with the Royal Air Force in the war. He meets Evelyn Johnson (Beckinsale), a Navy nurse, before leaving for England; Johnson and Walker get transferred to Pearl Harbor. In Japan, Admiral Yamamoto plans an attack on Pearl Harbor after the United States freezes its trade.

McCawley is shot down in combat over the English Channel; in Hawaii, Walker and Johnson are notified that he is presumed killed in action. While mourning for McCawley, the two have an intimate encounter and begin dating. On the day Johnson discovers that she is pregnant, McCawley returns after three months in occupied France; Walker and Johnson’s relationship estranges McCawley from them. After a fight the two men begin to reconcile, but are interrupted by Japanese Zero fighters, Val dive bombers, and Kate torpedo bombers.

The surprise Japanese attack sinks the USS Arizona (BB-39) and many other ships. While Johnson and other nurses struggle to help the wounded, McCawley and Walker shoot down seven Japanese aircraft using their reckless tactics. The heroes are both promoted to Captain and assigned to now-Lieutenant Colonel Doolittle for a dangerous and top-secret mission. Prior to leaving, Johnson reveals to McCawley her love for him, pregnancy, and intention to stay with Walker as the child is his.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Voight) wants to send a message that the Japanese homeland is not immune from bombing. Walker, McCawley, and others are to fly B-25 Mitchell heavy bombers from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8), bomb Tokyo, and land in China. The two men succeed in their bombing but are captured by the Imperial Japanese Army in China. Walker gives his life to save McCawley, who promises to raise Walker’s son. The film closes with McCawley, Johnson, and their son Danny, Jr. visiting Walker’s grave.

Saving Private Ryan

  • Directors: Steven Spielberg
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon, Gary Levinsohn
  • Writers: Robert Rodat
  • Genres: Action, Drama, War
  • Actors: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Matt Damon, Edward Burns, Jeremy Davies, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Dennis Farina

The film begins with an elderly World War II veteran (Harrison Young) and his family visiting the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France. The veteran collapses to his knees in front of a gravestone, overwhelmed by emotion. The scene then changes to the beginning of the Normandy invasion, with American soldiers landing on Omaha Beach and struggling against dug-in German Army infantry, machine gun nests and artillery fire. One of the officers who survives the initial landing, Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks), commanding officer of C Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion, assembles a group of soldiers and slowly penetrates the German defenses, leading to a breakout from the beach.

Meanwhile, in the United States, General George C. Marshall discovers that three of the four brothers of the Ryan family have all died within days of each other and that their mother will receive all three notices on the same day. He learns that the fourth son, Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon) of Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment is missing in action somewhere in Normandy. The drop target for Ryan’s unit was Neuville-au-Plain, Manche. After reading to his staff Abraham Lincoln’s Letter to Mrs. Bixby, Marshall orders that Ryan be found and sent home immediately.

Back in the present, the elderly veteran is revealed to be Ryan at Miller’s grave. Ryan asks his wife to confirm that he has led a good life and that he is a “good man”, and thus worthy of Miller’s and the others’ sacrifice. He then salutes Miller’s grave as the camera pans down the gravestones to the American flag and fades out.