Movie Review: The Heat


An uptight FBI agent is forced to work with a brassy, foul-mouthed Boston detective in order to take down a big time drug lord.


Paul Feig, 2013

When a promotion seems likely for FBI agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock), she’s forced to go to Boston to seek out a highly secretive and dangerous drug dealer. Upon arrival she arouses the ire of local detective Shannon Mullins, so of course the two of them have to work together in order to get their man – especially when Mullins’s ex-con brother is discovered to be involved in the crime. Ashburn has to work on her interpersonal skills in order to handle the madcap antics of Mullins (and get her flirt on with a surprisingly adorable Marlon Wayans).  The story is predictable – this is a movie about challenging conventions and breaking cultural ground, not creating something new in storytelling, which gets a little disappointing in the third act but is forgivable given the fact that there has never been an all-female buddy cop movie before.


Art by Mondo

This is the lady cop movie they didn’t make in the 80s, but with a more modern and occasionally absurd take on humour. It has a kind of 21 Jump Street vibe (with somewhat less surrealism), and the humour is similar as well. Melissa McCarthy is hilarious as the sweary Shannon Mullins, whose street-pounding detective from a big Irish family is loud, angry, and utterly brilliant. Improving upon the Bridesmaids one-note joke (where most of the joke seemed to be laughing at her for being fat), Mullins is complex and interesting, but she’s also celebrated by the movie. It’s Sandra Bullock’s uptight, difficult FBI agent who goes on a journey of self-discovery to become a thousand percent more awesome. Bullock and McCarthy have great chemistry in this movie, and while some scenes get a little improv-awkward their comedic timing works well together. Sandra Bullock hasn’t been this funny since Miss Congeniality. There’s some good supporting work from mostly non-white men, and there are also women in other supporting roles – check out the funny coroner and Jane Curtin as Mullins’s brilliant mother, for instance. This movie is taking huge strides in feminism, mostly because these women aren’t laughed at for being women in their profession, and are respected and sexual and kick-ass and generally awesome.  I was nervous to see it, thinking that the only reason I wanted to was because of the female leads, but I was laughing a few minutes in and the laughs kept coming throughout the movie.


The film has a gritty flashback 70s/80s-style look about it, right from the awesome opening credits to the end. The soundtrack is just as delightfully retro, mixing current and classic tunes, often with girl power themes, effectively. Some of the jokes had me in stitches, particularly the inevitable sequences where the two of them get drunk and bond, which includes some hilarious pig faces. There’s also some excellent action, car chases and shoot-outs and even explosions, beginning with a hilarious sequence in which Mullins bags a john and then a drug dealer. There’s a few surprises and a couple of emotional moments that actually got me, mostly thanks to Melissa McCarthy being awesome.


The Heat on IMDb


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