An exploration of The Heat through Vogler’s ‘Hero Journey’. This film is about two law officers investigation a drug network. Produced in 2013, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Directed by Paul Feig.
Act 1. Beginning = The Hero’s Journey
We start with Special Agent Sarah Ashburn showing off her skills as an FBI agent. Rubbing her independence and previous cases into the faces of her fellow agents. She comes across as a very capable, albeit arrogant agent.
2. Call to Adventure
Her call is to expand her skill set. She wants a promotion but her superior officer points out that she s not a team player, and none of her other officers like working with her. Therefore needs to show these skills, in a new case in Boston, to gain the promotion to team leader.
3. Refusal of the Call
Her first meeting with Detective Shannon Mullins does not go well when, true to her usual style, circumnavigates fellow workers’ requests. She seems completely oblivious to the world around her. The ensuing fighting in the interrogation room shows complete unprofessionalism and her distinct animosity towards working with others. She tells the police officer to back off, despite her clearly having more local knowledge.
4. Meeting with the Mentor
Her phone call to her superior officer becomes her mentor meeting, she basically gets told to work with the officer or forget the promotion. She also gets a reminder that the officer has better local knowledge and team work is essential.
5. Crossing the First Threshold
Although she doesn’t acknowledge to Detective Mullins what her superior has directed her to do, she does begrudgingly start to work with the detective.
Act 2. Middle = The Action
6. Tests, Allies Enemies
This starts as she begrudgingly starts to realise that maybe the detective isn’t as unskilled as she had assumed. This section of the film brings many challenges on the case and Det. Mullins becomes her ally. Not just showing her local knowledge, but also that teamwork isn’t always hard and that it is alright to trust people.
As the film continues the competitive nature of Ashburn lessens and the two genuinely work together. Through many trials and tests Ashburn realises that complementary skill sets can help with her job & life.
7. Approach the Inmost Cave
As the investigation gets more heated, there is a scene where Ashburn is put through several trials to get information. It is at this point she is physically manhandled by Mullins in a nightclub, treated with contempt by the DEA, and Ashburn finds herself torn between using Mullins’ brother as a lure. These trials aid with her growth.
At a pinnacle moment of her growth Ashburn is removed from the case and almost dismissed by the FBI.
After being removed from the case Ashburn and Mullins spend a night commiserating and talking in a bar. It is at this point I believe Ashburn gains her reward. A genuine friendship. She has learned to respect and trust Mullins enough to open herself up to a friendship. She shares her life as a foster kid, and she’s not treated with the judgement she is expecting.
Act 3. End = Consequences of action
10. The Road back
The morning after the reward Ashburn gets a way into the case through Mullins brother. Although this later turns out to be a trap, and it puts their friendship in jeopardy, it does put her back to work solving the case. She becomes singleminded again and this leads to her resurrection.
Between almost killing a man in a diner with a medical procedure she’s only watched on television; understanding the effect being a foster kid has had on her self reliant and singleminded approach to life; and finally Jason being hospitalised and nearly killed through the undercover operation, Ashburn gets her awakening. She realises she doesn’t know it all, and needs the guidance and assistance from other people.
12. Return with the Elixir
This is the realisation that she wants to work as part of a team, and moves to Boston to be near Detective Mullins. The gift from Mullins to Ashburn in her yearbook is absolutely the Elixir. To have a sister. Together they form a collaboration and the affectionately call themselves The Heat.