Miami Vice (2006) Poster


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Solid but underwhelming
maxwellsmart29 July 2006
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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Liquid Cinema: Part 1
tieman648 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"All is flux, nothing is stationary." - Heraclitus

"Miami Vice", "The Departed" and "The Black Dahlia" were all released in 2006. "The Departed" went on to do big business and win several key awards, whilst "Dahlia" and "Vice" did nothing but annoy audiences tremendously. Their characters were ciphers, the films had little action and despite their tremendous visual style, their plots were a giant bore. I myself found both films almost painful to sit through when first seeing them in theatres.

But time has a way of putting everything in its proper place. Today I find Scorsese's film intolerable and have since seen "Vice" and "Dahlia" over five times, the later two films revealing themselves, with subsequent viewings, to be truly spectacular. But isn't that always the case with great films? You're unprepared, they leave you baffled and your immediate response is always to react with hostility.

The "Miami Vice" television series was renowned for its flashy cars, cool clothes, sexy women and glossy look. Police detectives Tubbs and Crockett were as interested in their designer sunglasses and exotic sports cars as they were in catching criminals. The TV series celebrated superficiality and vapid aesthetics.

The "Vice" film, however, is one of profound numbness. This is an anti-procedural in which the characters are all desensitised to aesthetics, director Michael Mann opening the film with Linkin Park's "Numb Encore" before throwing his audience headlong into a police story so dense and alien that we immediately become as suffocated as the characters on screen. Tubbs and Crockett have themselves been on the job for so long that everything has long lost its sex appeal. The clothes, cars and exotic locales are now all completely banal. Life has been bled of colour, their toys have been bled of value and everything has a hollow, empty feel.

The film's plot – the detectives going undercover to infiltrate a criminal organisation – is both unoriginal and unimportant. This is a tone poem, a big budget art movie in the vein of Wong Kar-wai and Antonioni, Mann more interested in crafting a low-key crime story in which business is conducted with the existential detachment of Jean-Pierre Melville.

When late in the film Tubbs says to his partner, "So, fabricated identity, and what's really up, collapses into one frame. You ready for that on this one?", he's speaking of his partner's ability to distinguish between the professional life of a police officer and the domestic realm of romance. But on another level, the film is about the collapsing of identities in a larger sense, the archetypal police hero robbed of all energy, hopelessly fragmented, numb and reduced. The film itself is bookended by the lyrics "I'm tired of being what you want me to be, feeling so faithless lost under the surface" and "one of these mornings, they will look for me and I'll be gone", both movie and cast bleeding off into melancholic nothingness.

The flashy universe of the "Miami Vice" TV series, with its boundless money, its 80s excess, its glitzy materialism, has been torn open to reveal a vast network hidden deep within. If De Palma's "Scarface", released a year before Mann's TV series, exposes the banality of wealth, of pop individualism, of our very own post modern aesthetic, then "Vice" the movie tries – like HBO's "The Wire" - to map capitalism's unmappable network of corruption and money. This is a complex and illegible world in which it has become impossible to interact if not in a peripheral manner. Everything is in flux, moving, changing hands too quick for minds to process, let alone affect. Money, relationships and people are always in transition. By the film's end, a leak in the heart of a government agency has not been plugged, the villains escape and Crockett loses his girl. Nothing is resolved and everything is liquid. Liquid money, liquid people, liquid jobs, liquid relationships. Everything moves and it moves fast.

The detectives themselves embody divergent movements. Tubbs is focused, a man of stability, both in his love life and professionally, whilst Crockett is unpredictable, unbalanced and instinctive. He's always gazing out at the horizon, yearning for that utopian "beach paradise" that all Mann's heroes long for. But "Vice's" utopia differs significantly from the paradisaical longings of the men in "Collateral", "Manhunter", "Thief", "Public Enemies" and "Heat". Those characters all failed to actualise their idyllic havens because they were unable to separate the "professional" from the "domestic". But the lesson that "Vice" teaches is that the modern man is permanently disembodied. There is no "actual", no "real", to connect to. The human being has disappeared and dematerialised into the heart of an urban universe governed by technology and money. The post urban world is a confused and atomized mass held together only by the financial tendrils that cross it and the electronic images that recreate the simulacrum.

Crockett thinks he can resist this global system, thinks he can carve out a place of "tranquillity" that exists outside the flux. But this place no longer exists. In a world where a rapid edit is all that separates Miami beach from the slums of Columbia, where money darts back and forth on go-fast boats, where "product" circles the globe in Learjets, where identities are readily forged, created and abandoned at the click of a button, how can one truly hope to tear themselves away from the global system?

Man literalizes these themes toward the and of the film, when a sliding camera motion tracks the entwined hands of Tubbs and his lover. This same horizontal motion charters the disconnect between Crockett and his girl as she leaves on a boat (and their abandoned safe house). If Tubbs and his lover have connection in motion, it is only because they occupy the same professional space. But even this connection is fragile and hopelessly volatile.

(Part 2 of this essay can be found in my review of "Thief")
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Miami Vice is a cool, stylish, and quite frequently intense thriller.
jaysilentbob3718 August 2007
The first thing you need to know when you see Miami Vice, is that it's hardly anything like the trailers. While the insanely cool trailer makes this out to be a big, loud, mindless, shoot em' up action movie filled with car chases, explosions, and damsels in distress, the movie is actually anything but. They had to advertise the movie this way if they wanted to make money, but the fact is, if you go into this expecting what it was advertised as, you will be bored to tears, and most certainly hate the movie. I myself found the movie unbearably boring the first time I watched it. However, after a second viewing that I forced upon myself in my unwilling to be disappointed by such a cool looking film, I felt completely different about it. I was thoroughly entertained. Miami Vice is a gritty, intense, and often brutal, no- nonsense suspense drama that rewards patience and attention.

The plot is fairly simple, but the realistic way it's executed makes it feel complicated. It follows Miami cops Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell), and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx), who are given a most difficult assignment. They are assigned to go undercover and infiltrate a major drug cartel, led by the ruthless Jose Yero, and find out who killed two undercover federal agents. Crockett and Tubbs, under fabricated identities, enter a world where their badges mean nothing, danger and violence is waiting around every corner, and if they show any signs of their real intentions, they will be killed on sight. It doesn't exactly help that Crockett falls in love with one of the cartel's most important members (Gong Li).

Miami Vice is a very intense film, which maintains a consistent tone of imminent danger. Although Crockett and Tubbs (or any characters in it for that matter) are never really developed, we fear for their lives when things get too far beyond their control. The knowledge of what would happen to them if their identities were to be uncovered keeps us on the edge of our seat from the moment they begin their assignment. Employing non-stop action, which many people complain about the lack of, wouldn't make sense in this movie, because it's about characters trying to avoid anything that could set it off. There is action in the film, and whenever it occurs, it is not glamorous, or stylish. It is gritty, and often disturbingly brutal. The characters aren't in control of it, they are just as confused and terrified as any normal person would be if they were caught in a chaotic shootout.

The action scenes, as gritty as they are, are still executed in a good enough way that they get your adrenaline flowing, and the climactic shootout includes one of the single best bad guy kills I've ever seen. The most suspenseful moment in the film comes from a hostage situation/standoff in a trailer park, where the tension becomes nearly unbearable. The scene culminates in one of the most bad-ass "cop movie" moments that I've seen in a while.

The cinematography and music in the film are excellent, and any fan of cinema has to appreciate it. There is little, if any artificial lighting in the film. There are beautiful shots of Miami, lit only by the lights of the city itself, and breathtaking scenes of planes in the air, soaring through the clouds. There are times when the movie almost comes to a complete halt, just to bask in the beauty of the imagery, and while many people find these scenes boring and unnecessary, I found them to be hypnotic, and I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. Personally, I found the numerous sex scenes more boring and distracting than these. And the music perfectly fits the tone of every scene it's used in. The opening nightclub sequence is a great example of both of these elements, one of the single coolest moments to a film I've ever seen.

As for the acting, it isn't easy to comment on, as the actors do very little of it. Most of the time, all their roles require is for them to talk in a serious, no-nonsense voice and never smile. Gong Li really needs to work on her English, and subtitles would come in handy for her scenes. Actually, I strongly recommend that you watch the whole film with subtitles, due to the fact that the way the characters talk quite often makes it difficult to understand the dialogue.

Miami Vice lacks character development, and substitutes atmosphere, and tense dialogue for mindless action. It never dumbs down it's story for the audience's sake, and plays exactly as it would in real life. If you're looking for a good police thriller that doesn't insult your intelligence, I strongly recommend Miami Vice to you. I love this stylish, underrated film, and give it a 9/10.

Miami Vice is rated R for strong violence, language, and some sexual content.

Sex- 8/10 Violence- 8/10 Swearing- 6/10 Drugs- 7/10
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Cool. Bring your iPod to drown out the talking.
anandare31 July 2006
A die-hard Michael Mann fan, I deeply respect all of his prior work and hold "Thief" and "Heat" in the highest regard. I essentially went into the theater to watch Miami Vice expecting a reaction similar to when I viewed "Ali" and "Collateral" on the big screen. I expected to see the big Mann pull off what I didn't think anyone else could pull off... restructuring the perception of a specific actor and producing an engaging and resonating plot in an otherwise skeptical script idea. In "Ali" I didn't believe Will Smith was the right choice but he worked and Jamie Foxx as Bundini was amazing. In hindsight I understood why he focused solely on the height of Ali's career. When "Collateral" was announced, I had severe doubts as to the believability of the plot, the choice of Tom Cruise as a villain and the decision to shoot on High Definition video. I've watched those two movies several times over and love them both.

So it was with Miami Vice that I didn't think Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as a team were right for the roles. I also believed that the idea of recreating Miami Vice was a pure marketing scheme. I gave Michael Mann the benefit of the doubt considering he directed the TV series that I barely remember since I was only an adolescent. My only knowledge of Colin Farrell was that he was an Irish dude in "Minority Report". I was afraid Jamie Foxx would be a continuation of his "Collateral" "Max" character after he finds his balls.

Sure enough, for the first time, Michael Mann didn't sidestep my opinions. From the first scene in the nightclub, Jamie Foxx has taken over the actions of Tom Cruise. Break a bodyguard, step on him and look up past the camera. That was a great maneuver in Collateral, now I think it's cheese. So he's a tough dude. Colin Farrell is a charmer we learn immediately. So we'll expect sex scenes. Yeah. Too bad the characters are in the same camera shot but miles apart chemistry wise. It's just emotionally cold sex. There's no sense of a symbiotic relationship between Farrell and Foxx either. Both of them just seem to immediately know how to get things done and don't really do anything together that one couldn't do alone or with a randomly assigned partner. Their characters dominate every scene of possible tension and diffuse it immediately. Which is what I consider to be the film's second greatest weakness, the lack of tension and drama. We have to watch talk scenes. Characters talk to characters. Deceive characters by talking. Talk about deceiving by talking. Then fly or pilot a speedboat to talk somewhere else and talk over the phone. All quick witted and distant. It's all supposed to keep the audience wondering and guessing. Which is what it does, makes you wonder why any of it matters and try to guess if there will be any action or resonance with a character. Which is the film's greatest weakness.

You can't relate to any of the characters. All you are watching is a bunch of ethnically and gender diverse bad asses with cool cars, helicopters and boats go about being bad ass talkers and shooters. All presented in very fantastic heroism jumbled by dialogue, dialogue and more dialogue.

The only excitement comes from basic shootouts with shock value due to the timing of action and subsequent gore. But I'm not sure they're exceptional other than how they effectively remove you from the slow anxiety of watching the film not mean anything. The final one in particular seems like a low budget night rehash of the Heat shootout in the dark on grainy video with subpar sound effects.

There's no need to care for the characters. Gong Li is the film's only redemption. She acts with her body. Probably because she's not very good with English. It seems like one of the movie's major intents was to instill minority actors into invincible heroic roles. The white FBI agent is incompetent. White trash and jealous Latino dudes are the baddies, a random black pimp is just left to be. Come watch them get graphically shot to pieces by men and women of color. There's no internal development or conflict. They all talk and stare like Max at his turning point in Felix's club in "Collateral". There's no fear. Come in get the job done. Get er done! And we as the audience have to admire them for their cool cars and cool actions. Maybe only cool people like this movie. There's no depth or passion to any of it. Just cool people being cool in coolly stylized shots. And you won't even care about the questions it leaves unanswered cuz it's not cool to stress out over it. You might feel jealous or passionate and get shot in your "inner medulla by a bullet going 2750 feet per second".

I hope this isn't the start of Mediocre Michael Mann. The idea pains my heart.
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Really took me by surprise.
dead475488 January 2008
Wow, what a surprisingly impressive work. It is a completely visceral and unbelievably engaging piece that I couldn't bear to turn my eyes away throughout the entire duration. No action/crime drama can possibly compare to this one in terms of it's brutal and unflinching realism. Everything is portrayed so beautifully and authentically that I couldn't help but be overwhelmingly impressed. A lot of this realism comes from camera-work that Mann uses which is some of the best of the decade. I can't see how someone would call it a flaw or less than sensational in any way. Even the gunshots and wounds increase the immense realism of the picture.

Mann never lets up on his quest for the most authentic work, and it certainly shows in this. I hear a lot of people complain about the story being too complicated, but I didn't find it to be this way at all. Yes, it is very intricate and detailed but if you pay strict attention than it is quite easy to be completely up to date on everything that is happening. The performances are all fantastic and no one fails to impress, though Farrell's accent felt really out of place from time to time. Overall it was a film that I found to be incredibly engaging and beautifully done. The soundtrack added to the complete experience that it came to be, and really made the film feel slick and wonderfully stylish. I loved it. Easily one of the best of 2006.
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Cinematic adaptation from classic TV with action, suspense and violence
ma-cortes15 October 2007
This is a story about being undercover, and what happens when you go deep undercover.Particularly if you're doing an operation in a foreign country, where your badge doesn't count and where you can't have SWAT team surveillance you, and people are not in contact, you really are out on the edge. It's the allure of doing that undercover work and what happens to you when you're deep in that role of that fabricated identity. These roles protagonists(Colin Farrell,Jamie Foxx as Sonny Crockett and Tubbs) are filled by real deal. This is a cool film directed by Michael Mann. He tells that his ambitions with a picture like that was to really go exploring into some of diverse areas. It's shot in location Scout, South America. One of the exciting things about Michael Mann is the choosing real location all the time. We're dealing with environment that can often surprise us. Whether it's the light, whether it's dramatic moment with the sky, or some interior or some sort of background action that would not have happened in a controlled backlog situation. Michael gets this slickness, finding places, that, you know , that aren't even on the map.He makes as real as he possibly can. He's all about, why fake it, when you can do it for real? . The cameraman Dion Beebe gets a maximum chromatic saturation. The shooting in these places like Ciudad del Este is incredibly stimulating and exciting.It's a Tri-border area where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet. It's such a unique part of the world. This town have people who are from Middle East, Lebanese and Syrians, a lot of ethnic Chinese and the country speaks Guarani, which is the indigenous language. These people were extras and director got to be pretty determined to get a crew to these places. Also was shot a lot of stuff in the Dominican Republic and in some areas, it took a lot of social engineering to be able to bring a film company in and shoot responsibly and shoot safely. The main shooting is Miami, it's kind of globalized city with a huge population and a lot of money, and lot of people from Haiti, Brazil, Venezuela Columbia. In the movie Miami seems to have elevated itself, up into the most sensual which is up into the air.It's reflected the storm systems, the clouds, the dramatic weather and nature in a very, almost tactile way. Filming in really swank, fantastic places, and the girls are still beautiful(Gong Li, Naomie Harris,Elizabeth Rodriguez) and the cars are still fast but doesn't pull any punches when it comes to the underbelly of Miami.The city is photographed with alluring, it's very attractive, very engaging , sensual and also very dangerous and things that we can see around the images; furthermore an atmospheric music score by John Murphy. The motion picture is well realized by the successful director Michael Mann.
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Cop thriller for adults
General_Cromwell11 August 2006
While this is called 'Miami Vice' and has the same names as the characters from the TV show, thats where the similarities end. This is a no nonsense undercover cop thriller. There are no 'buddy cops', wisecracks, car chases, or O.T.T action, so the casual movie goer is going to be a little bemused by what they are seeing. But fans of Michael Mann's work will be in seventh heaven, because this has all the director's trademarks.

There's some stunning camera-work (A lot of it digital), and some beautifully rendered sequences in this and some explosive action (But don't go expecting 'Lethal weapon' style action.) The trailer park stand off with the white supremacists was my favourite scene and an abject lesson in how to put suspense on screen.

Performances are all very good, right down to the smaller parts and the plot demands attention. I found the films running time flew by. Its so refreshing to see a cop thriller for adults, with no silliness and one that doesn't insult the audiences intelligence.

Best film so far this year.
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confusing and unsatisfactory
Special-K8829 July 2006
From director Michael Mann and based on the 1980s television series comes this flashy, but overlong and unfocused Miami action flick about Vice detectives Sonny Crockett (Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Foxx) who must go deep undercover and throw their personal lives into disarray in order to stop an international drug trafficking scheme. Pulls you in with its stylish direction and flamboyant visuals, but the two leads have poor chemistry, character development is almost nonexistent, and the film drags on from one convoluted plot twist to the next. Action scenes provide a spark every once in a while, but overall the film is frustrating and never provides one single reason to care about any of its characters! A disappointment considering the cast and crew involved. **
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Not the MV I was expecting..
webontheweb7528 August 2006
I thought the movie was slick and stylish, yet Mann gave absolutely no nods towards one of the biggest t.v shows of all time, aside from the characters having the same names and residing in Miami.

Where was the boat? The alligator? The ex-wife? The kid? Where was Miami? The scenes shot there could have pretty much been anywhere on the coastline of the States. Mann reportedly said a few years back that Miami isn't an interesting place to him anymore. Well he made that quite apparent with his new version of Miami Vice.

I, against popular opinion, actually thought he made a good choice in Farell. I don't really like the guy but he seems to be convincing in most of his roles, and who's better to play a party hard, rough around the edges renegade than a party hard, rough around the edges, erm, renegade.. ahem. But as it's been stated over and over, Farell and Foxx had no chemistry whatsoever. They barely even looked at each other. In fact, Foxx's role could have pretty much been played as well by most African American actors, given the amount of screen time the guy had.

I came out of the movie feeling like I wanted to hit a club, drink mojito's and pick up a model. Which I did, almost.

Miami Vice was a slick cop story with a shaky plot and cool visuals. But if you're looking for any references to the series then forget it, aside from a crap cover version of In The Air tonight thrown on during the end credits (originally sung by Phil Collins in the series pilot).

What was great about the series was the style, the attitude, the music. The film got one out of three of those right.
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Well Paced, intelligent and beautifully shot
gerry-steele-111 August 2006
If you have seen Collateral by the same director, you have already seen a film that is almost identical in stylistic approach to Miami Vice. In fact several scenes are very similar indeed. As well as the frequent use of the vocal talents of Chris Cornell from Audioslave on the sound track.

The film is a "re-imagining", if you will, of the original TV series of which Mann was an Exec Producer. It is a Brooding and dark film that has no fear of the fantasy of giving two policemen a Lear Jet, a Ferrari, a speed boat, a Yaught and so on.

It is this marriage of action and toys with a dark and sometime incomprehensible plot that somehow works. Even at times it is difficult to understand what the characters are saying to each other.

All this aside this film is very good. The acting by Farrell and Foxx is first rate and some of the opening scenes are eye candy of the highest order. The closing gun fight is also worth seeing. If you think too hard about this movie you will see its flaws. But you won't care, and love it anyway. A unique trait that can perhaps be applied to the vagueness of the plot.
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