One of my favorite movies is Michael Mann’s Heat, a sprawling epic crime saga. But in 1989, after the success of “Miami Vice,” Mann made a tv movie for NBC called L.A. Takedown. I’ve never been able to get my hands on a copy, but I knew it was very similar to Heat. However, before tonight, I never realized just how similar it is. This is the L.A. Takedown version of the iconic bank robbery scene, the Heat version of which you can view here. This is a very good (and rare) example of two levels of filmmaking applied to the same scene. The plot and situations are nearly identical, but the execution couldn’t be more different. Sure, there are similarities. The affinity for ambient electronic music, the desaturated colors, the naturalistic performances and the slavish devotion to realism and geography in the action coverage are all there in both versions. But the quality of the performances, the level of intensity, the beauty of the coverage, and the overall polish on the Heat version is leaps and bounds beyond L.A. Takedown. It’s amazing how much of a shift in the level of his craft occurs in the 6 years that separates their productions. For a filmmaker hell bent on growth and creative development, it just goes to show you that a lot can happen in a short amount of time. I’ve always felt like I’d make a fantastic movie if I could be allowed to make it twice, once to make the mistakes and once to learn from them. It turns out Michael Mann did just that.