Date: September 24
"I'm a needle starting at zero going backwards, a double blank." This isn't a bar from some kind of Drake Suburban Basement Rec Room Tapes. That's Neil McCauley, Robert De Niro's character from Michael Mann's Los Angeles crime saga Heat, talking to the woman he's been searching for his entire life. This woman, Eady (Amy Brenneman), whom he meets while talking books at a hip restaurant, she might be his key to a new life. Neil's a professional thief and it's hard to make meaningful attachments when you pull heists for a living. Though many of his partners-in-crime have found love (or something like it), Neil's single. "I'm alone, I am not lonely," he tells Eady on their first night together, sounding wounded beneath his tough veneer.
On Tuesday, Drake released the seven-minute-long video for "Hold On, We're Going Home," the big pop single from his latest album, Nothing Was the Same. The video, set in Miami, 1985, details a business meeting between Drake and his business partners, and the mission to retrieve Drake's character's love interest, who has been kidnapped by a violent rival.
If you aren't obsessed with both Michael Mann and Drake like I am, you might have chalked the video up to Scarface nostalgia and moved on with your day. But I can't do that. There's no doubt that Scarface left its mark on the video—Steven Bauer, who played Tony Montana's best friend Manolo in Brian Depalma's epic tale of cocaine and and jealousy and violence, plays the video's villain. But the video, directed by Hollywood cinematographer Bill Pope, owes much more to American artist Michael Mann, producer NBC's hit 1980's show, Miami Vice, and director of masterpieces like Manhunter, The Last of the Mohicans, The Insider, and, of course, Heat.
Because I can filter most of my day-to-day lived experience through Michael Mann, especially Heat, I watched "Hold On, We're Going Home" and felt vindicated in learning that Drake must like Mann, too. (Or is this just a result of the Internet's relentless quest to draw loose connections between things that don't demand it—you be the judge!)
At the beginning of the video, the camera moves through a club where Drake's character and his crew hold court, much like Neil and his thieves in Heat. (They meet at a restaurant to celebrate a recent score.) While they're toasting to their accomplishments, Drake receives a troubling phone call: His girl has been kidnapped. (This kidnapping and the subsequent heavily armed preparation for the woman's liberation recalls the kidnapping of Jamie Foxx's partner and love interest in Mann's 2006 film adaptation of Miami Vice.) The way the sound of Drake's voice first disappears from the phone conversation seems (and maaaybe this is a stretch) like a nod to the moment in Heat when Al Pacino's character Vincent Hanna gets the call that Neil, who he's been pursuing, is still in town. The sound in the scene vanishes as Vincent rushes down a staircase to get the job done; you don't hear his footsteps. Finally, the gunfight at the mansion where Drake and friends pursue his taken lover is shot on something that aspires to be high-definition video, and it feels like all of the shootouts in Miami Vice. It's just not lit as well.
Of course Drake likes Michael Mann! Mann's work is populated by difficult men who act tough but are, inside, full of gooey love. You think Drake doesn't have feelings for the waterfall scene in The Last of the Mohicans, where Daniel Day-Lewis's character Hawkeye tells his lover, Cora (Madeleine Stowe), "I will find you. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you..." No chance! Drake probably leaves his one-night stands little glasses of water wrapped up in white napkins just like Neil does in Heat.
Or maybe this is all just a coincidence and I've only been talking about myself. —Ross Scarano