• James Hewlett

LA Crime

I’ve been playing Payday 2 with the boys a lot and every time I do it gives me thoughts about some of my favourite action thrillers. The game borrows heavily from a lot of cinematic influences and it makes me want to check out a few in particular.

I have a strange affinity for a particularly specific sub genre within a sub genre.

I really really really like Los Angeles based heist movies.

Michael Mann’s 1995 masterpiece Heat is almost certainly the apex of this collection of movies. So much so that the tag line of the film is ‘A Los Angeles Crime Saga.’

It brilliantly tells the paralleling stories of Neil, Robert De Niro, a master criminal and leader of a tight knit crew responsible for taking down major scores in a couple of excellent set pieces and Vincent, Al Pacino, the hot headed veteran robbery and homicide detective who’s task force is in relentless pursuit of Neil’s crew.

I remember walking around the streets of downtown LA as a twenty year old film fanatic recognising the streets and having a good sense of where I was going based on the bank heist in the middle of the movie. A lot had changed in the twelve years since it’s release but Mann’s affection for the city had seeped into me and I loved it.

Point Break, Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 action fiesta is mostly remembered for the surfing, ski diving and zen Buddhist approach to crime portrayed by Patrick Swayze at the height of his stardom and the stonery, earnest but not quite self aware nature of a young Keanu Reeves fresh off Bill & Ted and long before Neo.

I don’t think people immediately think of LA when they think about point break but it’s influence on the film is undeniable. From the beaches of Malibu to the foot chase through Culver City the movie invokes a different side of LA.

The latest movie to have that same effect on me is 2011’s Drive by Nicholas Winding Refn. From the long, dark, atmospheric opening what includes a car chase and illusive manoeuvring by Ryan Gosling’s nameless ‘driver’ through the rest of the film we see all sides of Los Angeles. Gritty downtown, glossy movie sets, seedy race tracks and secluded pizzerias. This movie doesn’t quite fit in the traditional heist model, but we see that life from one specific cog in a crews wheel. Pun only partially intended.

These three are the epitome for me but there are so many more LA specific movies that I love, I wish I could thematically hook White Men Can’t Jump into this post, but maybe I’ll think of a way to connect a few other movies together and highlight them in a future post. I’ve still got eleven months worth to figure out!

I’m going to put my phone on charge now, using it for everything while my laptop is out of action is a drain on the battery and I’ll need it for Cards Against Humanity this evening.

©2017 by James Hewlett.