August 1, 2006 > Miami Vice
Directed by Michael Mann Rated R
Not having seen the original 80s TV series prior to watching Michael Mann's updated version of Miami Vice, I went into this film with low expectations and little idea what to expect other than yet another gritty, action-crime drama from the director of Heat and Collateral. After watching the first season of the show on DVD for the purposes of this review, I can say that the movie plays out like a longer episode of the show, without the 80s nostalgic appeal. This, unfortunately, leaves the film with little appeal at all.
Making a Miami Vice movie that doesn't take place in the 80s during the cocaine era is like doing a Dukes of Hazard movie where the good ol' boys don't drive around in General Lee; extract the one element that lent the original its unique visual flare and charm and you leave audiences with a very standard film that they've likely seen in one iteration or another many times before.
Miami Vice follows the exploits of vice detectives Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. Played respectively by Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, they sleaze their way undercover through the seedy drug-filled underbelly of Miami to take down international drug trafficker Jesus Montoya. As you might imagine, the rest of the film plays out like any other movie in this rather tired genre - a couple of cops get too close to the top of a major drug dealing operation and their personal and professional lives become dangerously intertwined.
But what really gets me about this film is that Michael Mann is a good director. This guy made Heat, the definitive heist movie. And Collateral, his film directly preceding Miami Vice, was a solid film as well. Collateral also had an original storyline and lead characters that were actually compelling. Miami Vice has neither. Farrell's Crockett is just unlikable, and we don't see enough of Foxx's Tubbs to make a judgment about him one way or another. The film starts off at a crawl and doesn't pick up the pace until the shootout in the last half hour of the film. Furthermore, the plot is too convoluted. It opens on an awkward cut and ends equally abruptly, leaving most viewers waiting for an "on next week's episode of Miami Vice..." that never appears.
Hopefully Michael Mann got this out of his system so he can go back to making great films. I don't think anybody wants to see Miami Vice 2 any time soon. Go rent the show on DVD, or even play the game on PSP. Just don't go watch this movie at theatre prices.