I wonder whether Michael Mann ever crossed paths with Walter Hill – not only were both writer-directors good at both tasks (not very common), they worked on similar sides of the street, i.e. male-orientated action stories. They were also attracted to similar themes- professionalism, style, the blurred line between law and order (not so much a difference in their worlds as "professional" and "amateur".) Like Heat, this is about the rivalry between a super-crook and a super-cop, both of them excellent and their job, and the cop determination to bust the crook verges on obsession.
Hill said this script was the purest example of his pared-back writing style: the lead characters are called “The Driver”, “The Detective” and “The Player” – although the support cast are given names. The Driver is a getaway driver; the Detective is convinced (correctly) he’s involved in a recent casino robbery, so he blackmails some crooks into hiring him. The Driver doesn’t like the crooks, so says no – but then the Detective dares him into doing it so he says yes, which is silly. The crooks do the gig, try to double cross him but it doesn’t work.
A lot of this is reminiscent of The Getaway – a robbery that goes wrong, with crooks double-crossing each other; the hero crook has a moral code, but the other crooks are loathsome. There’s even a bit where a pickpocket steals a bag during a crucial exchange and the man has to get it back. But it’s a very exciting script, with sufficient twist and turns to justify the car chases. The best scene is where the Connection is killed – this is really good. You read it and the part of the Driver fairly cries out to be played by Steve McQueen, not Ryan O’Neal.