Miami Vice

Miami Vice


Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Having made a name for himself by producing the cop-show-defining cop-show Miami Vice back in the Eighties, it wasn’t a great surprise that director Michael Mann was the man behind a big screen revamp.

However, for those of you expecting more of the same, it’s disappointment time. All but disconnected to the show to the degree that the title borders on misleading, the only thing that Miami Vice has in common is that fact that the protagonists are Miami-based undercover narcotics officers named Crockett and Tubbs. Here, the pastel colours are replaced by muted blues, the Ferrari Daytona Spyder has been upgraded to a Ferrari F430 and the designer stubble has evolved to a bushy moustache/pointed goatee. Hell, even the immensely cool Jan Hammer theme tune is completely absent.

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While Detectives Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) are undercover trying to plug a leak in the FBI, they encounter an important drug smuggler (John Ortiz) and his connected boss (Luis Tosar). As Crockett starts an affair with their associate, Isabella (Gong Li) and Tubbs’ secret girlfriend (Naomie Harris) is kidnapped, the line between private and professional life starts to blur.

Like his other pictures Michael Mann's film oozes class and acts as a checklist for all his usual telling trademarks. Stylish cinematography? You bet. A plethora of blue neon lights, fast cars and a beautifully lit urban landscape? Of course. Hip thudding soundtrack? Mann doesn’t know any other way.

Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case with his work, Miami Vice also has a very unapologetic air to it, so the viewer not paying attention will get lost in a sea of visuals. Though each scene moves by fairly slowly, the plot zooms past without the slightest concession and we’re left asking a few head-scratching questions. Who is that guy? Why is he shooting him? Who told Farrell that moustache was a good look? And where the hell is Edward James Olmos?

Furthermore, though shot beautifully with more than a few aesthetically-pleasing treats as you’d expect from a man with a serious style-overload condition, the camerawork is a little dubious. While it sometimes makes us feel like we’re on the scene of a drugs bust, it also occasionally looks like someone took a camcorder and followed Farrell around for a while.

As for Farrell and Foxx, both earn pass marks for their portrayals but are let down by a script which smothers them with restraint. With the iconic cops in deep cover, they keep themselves to themselves, barely converse with each other (seriously) despite an obvious loyalty and end up being kept at suit-jacket-sleeves-rolled-up arms length. In many ways, Miami Vice is the anti-Lethal Weapon.

Overall, while not up there with Heat or Collateral, Miami Vice is another stylish and grown-up actioner from Mann that’s better than the common fluff. Though distancing itself from the depth-lacking, style-favouring TV show was a good move, a Don Johnson cameo next time wouldn’t go down a miss.

Reviewed on: 13 Jun 2009
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Miami Vice packshot
Cop duo Crockett and Tubbs ditch their 80s pastel suits to crack - pardon the pun - down on a gang of ruthless drug dealers in style.
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Read more Miami Vice reviews:

John Gallagher *****
Leanne McGrath ***1/2

Director: Michael Mann

Writer: Michael Mann, based on the TV series by Anthony Yerkovich

Starring: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Gong Li, Luis Tosar, Naomie Harris, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Justin Theroux, Ciarán Hinds, Barry Shabaka Henley, Domenick Lombardozzi, Isaach De Bankolé, Eddie Marsan

Year: 2006

Runtime: 134 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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