A cab driver finds himself the hostage of an engaging contract killer as he makes his rounds from hit to hit during one night in Los Angeles. He must find a way to save both himself and one last victim.
When a Las Vegas performer-turned-snitch named Buddy Israel decides to turn state's evidence and testify against the mob, it seems that a whole lot of people would like to make sure he's no longer breathing.
Ricardo Tubbs is urbane and dead smart. He lives with Bronx-born Intel analyst Trudy, as they work undercover transporting drug loads into South Florida to identify a group responsible for three murders. Sonny Crockett [to the untrained eye, his presentation may seem unorthodox, but procedurally, he is sound] is charismatic and flirtatious until - while undercover working with the supplier of the South Florida group - he gets romantically entangled with Isabella, the Chinese-Cuban wife of an arms and drugs trafficker. The best undercover identity is oneself with the volume turned up and restraint unplugged. The intensity of the case pushes Crockett and Tubbs out onto the edge where identity and fabrication become blurred, where cop and player become one - especially for Crockett in his romance with Isabella and for Tubbs in the provocation of an assault on those he loves. Written by
Although there were no opening credits in the theatrical release, the Unrated Director's Cut contains credits over a new sequence that opens the film. Once the credits are done, the film begins in the nightclub scene that opened the theatrical version. See more »
Due to Michael Mann's track record it was hard to go into this movie without very high expectations. After all, we are talking about the creator of arguably the greatest crime drama/thriller ever made with "Heat", as well as the highly entertaining "Collateral". But "Miami Vice" fails to live up to Mann's past success in the crime genre.
The plot is completely ordinary and doesn't offer up any unexpected twists and turns along the way. Because of this, the movie lacks intensity through much of the first and second acts, when everything that's happening is completely predictable.
However, pedestrian plot aside, the biggest disappointment was the manner in which the characters were developed. Both "Collateral" and "Heat" were notable for the way in which they delved deep into the psyche of the central characters, providing compelling personal drama to go along with the heists, hits and gunplay. But in "Miami Vice", we never really get to know the characters or their motivations beyond the surface level. And to make matters worse, Foxx and Farrell never develop the kind of rapport that's necessary to make a movie like this work on a high level. Compare Foxx and Farrell to Johnson and Thomas, or Gibson and Glover, and you'll see what I mean. Even though the "Miami Vice" movie aspires to be darker and grittier than "Lethal Weapon", which it is, it fails to be as dramatic because we never really come to care about the characters all that much. While there was clearly a conscious decision to downplay the "buddy" elements of the movie, the result is that Crockett and Tubbs seem so disconnected from each other on a personal level that it's hard to buy that they would die for each other, which we are expected to believe. The only relationship that is at all convincing or fleshed out is between Crockett and Isabella. The rest seem decidedly distant and undercooked.
What saves the film from being a bust is the visual splendor and great action sets. Mann once again proves that when it comes to creating a gritty atmosphere and staging shootouts, he's among the best in the business. When it comes to style, visuals, and atmosphere, "Miami Vice" is top notch.
In the end perhaps what hurt this movie most was studio deadlines and delays while shooting. It's been widely reported that Michael Mann had to feverishly edit this film just to get it into theaters on time, and in many ways that shows. There are multiple loose ends that are never tied up or explained, and several plot threads seem underdeveloped. I'm sure some day we will see a director's cut which approaches the 3 hour mark just like "Heat", and perhaps that version will overcome of the issues involving character development and plot holes in the theatrical version. Until then, "Miami Vice" is a movie that, while far from being a total failure, is none-the-less disappointing in that it had the potential to be a much more complete film than it is.
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