Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Miami Vice

Director: Michael Mann
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Gong Li, Luis Tosar, Naomie Harris, Justin Theroux

Running Time: 140 min.

Rating: Unrated

** (out of ****)

All style and no substance. That's the best way to describe Michael Mann's Miami Vice, the big screen update of Mann's own hit 1980's television series starring Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas that revolutionized the action drama. I don't even no why I even bothered to mention that since this movie has absolutely nothing in common with that show other than it shares the same creator. This movie may as well be called Bad Boys 4, except the Bad Boys movies tend to actually have action in them. Be warned, despite the advertising, this movie has exactly one action scene, which comes at the end of the film and features a horrible cover of Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight." The movie does, however, succeed at one thing: It looks really cool.

The plot is needlessly complicated, not to mention terminally uninteresting. It has something to do with Miami cops "Sonny" Crockett (Colin Farrrell) and "Rico" Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) going undercover to infiltrate a drug trafficking ring. That's about it. One of the movie's amazing skills is that it somehow manages to make a paper thin plot frustrating confusing. The relationship between Crockett and Tubbs is basically nonexistent. They seem like just partners with no connection on a personal level, so when something happens to either of them we couldn't care less. Foxx has virtually no speaking lines in the film while Farrell does a good job looking and acting cooler than us, which is all that's required of him. The women in the movie exist so they can participate in sex scenes. You may as well just rent a porno if you want that.

Movies just seem to get longer and longer these days. Which is okay, if they're good. This "Unrated Director's Cut" DVD stretches the movie out to 140 minutes. Why? I didn't see the movie in theatres so I couldn't tell you what was added, but I doubt the added minutes produced anything revelatory since the characters weren't developed and there were no action scenes at all. Everyone just talks...and talks some more. What the movie does have going for it is it's vision and that it's technically very well made. Everything was shot on location in Miami and it looks great. You can practically see for miles in every shot as Mann uses some incredible deep focus photography and every scene in the movie looks like a painting. Mann (who directed the outstanding Manhunter, Heat and Collateral) has always proven himself to be a visual artist and I can't recall any film he's made looking as good as this one.

The DVD's special features confirm about Mann what we should have suspected. He's a perfectionist who won't quit until every shot is just right. It would have been nice if he had a good script to shoot though. The film's score pulsates with an energy and intensity the film doesn't really deserve. I can't complain that they scrapped Jan Hammer's classic Miami Vice theme, as it would seem like a bizarre inclusion given the changes to everything else. I agree with those that feel Miami Vice could not and should not have been brought to the screen identically resembling it's 80's counterpart, but whether you thought the show was stupid or not, you'd at least have to admit that it was fun. This isn't. Mann didn't have the obligation to remake his own show, but he did have the responsibilty to stay true to it's spirit. To that end, the movie fails miserably.

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