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The 50 Greatest Movie Endings of All Time

18. Heat (1995)

Director: Michael Mann
Screenwriter: Michael Mann

Like a Caravaggio, two still figures in shadow, the only illumination the pinpricks of white and red outlining the airport runway and the light pollution from the distant city. From the suits and short hair, we can guess that the figures are men. One stands with his back to us, the other is sprawled on his back against some kind of waist-high and ugly squat structure, something electrical. He's bleeding from his chest, the sprawled man, and the other figure holds his hand.

Because this a movie and not a 17th-century painting, the lights flicker within the frame (though nothing else moves) and the soundtrack reverberates with a repetitive piano motif. It's joined by another repetitive layer, all of these keys stacked against each other. Strings join. There's a key shift that sounds like god. Cut to credits.

This has been a Michael Mann film. This has been an existential Los Angeles crime saga about two men, a cop (Al Pacino) and a robber (Robert De Niro), two sides of the same coin, joined now as they hold hands. This has been Heat. —RS

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