L.A. Takedown
Dir: Michael Mann
Star: Scott Plank, Alex McArthur
Cert / Year: 15 / 1989
Format: DVD R2

A daring armoured car robbery is performed by a gang of professional criminals lead by Patrick McLaren (Alex McArthur). Unfortunately things don't go quite to plan as one of the gang loses it and kills the guards. This brings the crime to the attention of veteran cop Vincent Hanna (Scott Plank). What follows is game of cat and mouse between McLaren and Hanna, as his gang prepares for their next job right under the noses of the Hanna's cops. Both know it is a game with only one winner only who will it be.

Ah yes remember Miami Vice that bastion of cool cop eighties style, and the man behind it all Michael Mann. What the heck has this got to do with L.A. Takedown? Well the answer is an awful lot. After Miami Vice Mann went on to work on Crime Story, Manhunter and then this television movie which he both wrote and directed. All of the above have the common theme of being what you might call cop shows, and the hip characters and slick contemporary (for the eighties) style are similar throughout this body of work. Whats more the brilliant camerawork, and excellent visual composition that is the hallmark of his work is once again present.

Hold on isn't the story line of this film a bit familiar? Yes it is because Michael Mann went on to remake this original television movie six years later as the major budget film Heat (Ah so you didn't know this, but if you did well done smartly pants). Both versions are very similar, in some cases (especially the armoured car scene, and the bank scene) the versions are almost shot for shot identical, however there are differences. For a start the big film looked slicker and had big name stars (more of this in a minute), and it was almost an hour longer.

This change in running time has allowed for a lot more character development a difference in the ending. It does however have a major downside and this is that the pacing of Heat is a somewhat laboured in comparison to that of L.A. Takedown as it concentrates more on the characters home lives rather than the crimes (I prefer the faster pacing but it is a personal choice). The story itself is not wildly original or very clever. It is a run of the mill cops and robbers story. The only thing that makes it stand out is the interplay between the main bad guy and the cop. Even then this is not as satisfying as it could be, as the Vincent Hanna cop character makes progress rather by luck than any skill on his own part.

Ok so television movies in the eighties tended to not attract major name stars (unlike some of them nowadays, for example Nuremberg), whereas Heat has both Robert de Nero and Al Pacino. There really is no comparison L.A. Takedowns actors do try hard and Alex McArthur is pretty effective. Unfortunately Scott Plank does rather live up to his name. It is interesting to note that due to the age of Alex McArthur he seems better suited for the role than Robert De Nero does, however this is more to do with casting than acting. Overall while the acting is adequate for the most part, it very rarely surpasses this level.

L.A. Takedown is an effective, stylish cops and robber movie. It boasts another fine turn form the pen and camera of Michael Mann. It may well have been more widely recognised today if it hadn't been remade as Heat. I still prefer the pacing of this film but the performances in Heat give it the edge. If you have watched Heat I can recommend you see this as it is interesting to see a different (almost prototype) of the later film. If you haven't seen it watch this first it is a good film in its own right and well worth a watch.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Picture 4:3 Terrible, grainy and washed out. It looks like video!
Audio Sterio Poor
Features None
Verdict This disc is awful. The picture and sound are no better than VHS and there are no extras. This is a insult to a good film.

Rating: 0 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home