It goes a long way towards fetishizing guns. I can't say Mann actually sensualizes the weaponry (no long, lingering shots on gun barrels, or much slow motion shots of blood exploding out of hapless human bodies), but he has an awareness of ordinance and ammunition that--well, I never fired a weapon before, but my fingers itched to get their hands on that .50 calibre sniper rifle (what do they say in Mythbusters? "This .38 will kill you. This .50 calibre will kill you and everyone else in the room."), not to mention the way said rifle shoots very large holes into a car, the car seats inside, the people sitting in those car seats, and the engine block sitting in front of all the perforated people.
But I can't see a gun freak grooving to this film; the weapons are taken out and used; no one refers to them or talks much about them (except perhaps in one memorable incident, a brief moment of glory for the character named Gina). They're just tools to be used in the trade (same with the boats, which look as if they could blast off, the Ferrari and BMW, and that beautifully swanlike Adam A500 plane). Actually, I can't see anyone grooving to this film other than a film critic--it's iced ice, exhaling pure carbon dioxide. But it looks gorgeous.
Even more interesting than the weapons or transport are the tactics used, particularly on the raid on the trailer home: establish your positions, get as much reconaissance intelligence as possible and (if the moment befits it) use a bit of improvisation, like a discarded pizza box. These people move the way I suspect Mann directs.
There is heart here, but like the weaponry it's barely glanced at: the interplay between Tubbs and Trudy and the understated concern they have for each other (understated not meaning they don't feel all that much, but that they bury their feelings under some tough-talking shell); an edgy affair between Crockett (Colin Farell) and Isabella (Gong Li) that seems like a totally screwed-up idea (when infiltrating an organization, do you sleep with the boss' squeeze?) and puzzlingly placed--it slows down the action when things should be speeding up. But it's like an added origami fold, an odd bent in a classic-looking form that makes the whole more interesting as a result.
And it leads up to a satisfying (for me, I wouldn't know about the general public) conclusion--after all has been fired upon and blown away (in a gunfight that seems to be trying to outdo the one Mann staged in Heat), what matters, sometimes, is the furtive act of compassion.
The overall result is a quality I find in most Mann films--a realistic action flick where the most interesting action is directed inwards, towards the still, carefully suspended core of the protagonists' souls...
Not bad, not bad at all; if I'd seen this earlier, I'd call it one of the best of last year.