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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.
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.
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. **
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
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.
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
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.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Flashbacks of a white suit worn to the wedding of an ex-girlfriend's
sister went through my mind when I saw that there was another
Television show Turned Movie. Go ahead and laugh, but I am sure more
than one of the men out there had an Angel's Flight suit or some other
Don Johnson wannabe be piece of 80's kitch clothing.
I was very doubtful of the outcome until I saw they handed Miami Vice to director/writer Michael Mann. Mann, who brought us Heat, Ali, and Collateral adds another action film to his collection of hits with this version of the Miami Police Department's vice detective team of James 'Sonny" Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. They're the guys who show up and make happen what the CSI folk figure out later.
In this Vice story, our heroes are about to break up a prostitution ring when they get a call from a non-active informant saying that there is something major going down and he is leaving. That this first story line goes away is good because it will give you a chance to get up to speed with the movie which starts above the speed limit in the very first frame and you need to get ready for the ride. This informant leads them to be assigned to an FBI task force investigating a drug ring that is going to involve Russians, Skinhead Nazis, Colombians and anyone else that can be thrown in. But that's not the important part. What is important is that the FBI task force has a leak that is getting agents killed. And since Miami PD is not part of it, Crockett (Colin Farrell from Phone Booth, Daredevil) and Tubbs (Jaime Foxx from Jarhead, Ray, Collateral) can be trusted to help the Feds get to the bottom of it.
Part of the charm of Vice, is that it doesn't stop to explain things to the slow kids in the audience. To Mann's credit, he doesn't dumb down the dialog to let us know the intricacies of what the main characters are talking about. There's no "Gee, if there is a bullet in his brain he was probably killed by the impact of it" pabulum that invades television cop shows. The characters all know what they are talking about and expect us to keep up or catch up during gunfire scenes. Also to Mann's credit, he does not throw in a stupid twist like Crockett and Tubb's boss is part of the conspiracy. That would have sucked. Don't worry, their boss is a good guy, like them.
The violence of Vice is another thing that is not dumbed or numbed down in this film. You don't just see a man getting shot and flying backwards from the impact, you see his insides come outside as each piece of lead tears apart the body. This is an R-rated film and it earns it. A strong warning to parents here if you think that the kids have seen cop shows and this is going to be the same..... NO.... This is lots of violence and it's not hidden by quick cuts and editing. And for those parents who don't mind their kids seeing bodies being ripped apart sinew by sinew, there are people having SEX, too! Good sex. With a 228 mile boat ride full of foreplay.
And speaking of those racing boats I have a quick side note here. This may be a plot problem but I am not sure. You know those Go-Go boats? The really fast racing ones? Do they have enough range to get from Miami to Havana? I didn't know the answer to that one and it might be something that needs 'xpalining. But by the time you see this scene, you will probably be completely entrenched in the story and can't wait to see the two characters in the boat get to Havana for a mojito and sex that you won't care.
I had been dreading this movie because if Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx were expected to act at all like their predecessors, it would have been a long couple of hours. But that did not happen. Farrell gets more screen time than Foxx, but they are both terrific. In looking back at Foxx's career, it was in another Mann film, ALI, that his career truly turned and he began getting away from the dufus parts to the serious Leading Man roles that he has had since. It was good to see him team up with Mann for the third time. He is an actor who is honing his craft and has become a reason to see a film. The best acting in the movie is turned, however, by John Ortiz, who plays Jose Yero, a mid-level management type in the crime syndicate. He is smart, and not so much evil as ruthless in running the business. Yero has been a lot of crime movies - The Opportunists, Narc, Ransom - but never anywhere close to top billing. This film could and should get him a lot more work, higher up the cast list. The Farrell love interest (there always IS one - it's in his contract) is Li Gong, last seen as the bad ass hooker Hatsumomo in Memoirs of a Geisha. I feel she was a little stilted and tight, but that might be the language block. When she is in scenes where she does not speak - and just relies on her body language, we see more of her abilities The soundtrack and sound are also terrific. Gunshots are loud and jarring and the background music makes you feel the heat on screen.
I enjoyed Miami Vice. It was much better than I expected and that does not happen enough for me. You need to like action flicks. Or watching Foxx and Farrell and Gong. But that is not difficult - Let it be your own little vice.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was simply lacking.
It lacked everything that made MV great. Great soundtrack, flashy cars, and tongue in cheek devil may care attitude of Tubbs and Crocket.
This movie tried to be dark, and was just tired.
There was little chemistry between Fox and Ferrel and it was as if Mann had to write to parallel plots for each leading man. Two girls, two romances, two sex scenes, two shower scenes, two girls in distress scenes, etc.
Finally, for a relatively pedestrian plot, Mann left most of the plot twists hanging and unanswered. Who was the FBI leak, what was in the Russian crates, why was a Montoya a Russian working with a Chinese national using American skin heads as muscle, why did they need to be deputized by the FBI and what the hell ever happened to the FBI in the movie.
The movie just didn't rehash the magic of MV or reinvent itself.
Just saw the film today- I am a big fan of Michael Mann' films but I must say I was somewhat disappointed. The story is realistic and believable, the acting was on point for the most part and of course the cinematography was excellent. The films biggest fault-unintelligible dialog. I viewed Miami Vice in a digital surround theater,and the effects-gunshots,helicopters,speedboats,sports cars etc.were plenty clear but I found myself straining to hear most of what the actors were saying. Of course, the heavy accents and macho low voice tones didn't help. Its a good drug/crime action movie but very far from the caliber of films Mann is known for(Heat,Collateral). I remember rushing home in the eighties to see Miami Vice,I don't think I ever missed an episode. Maybe I just expected too much.
Being a huge fan of the show my expectations were very high, so I was very worried about if this would be another bad TV to movie adaptation. Well my friends this took my breath away. The film is very raw and pulls no punches. It give you a hardcore look at the underground drug world. The acting is great, and the action is phenomenal. Foxx and Farrell pull off a great Crockett and Tubbs. If you are a fan of the show you will also see the characters: Gina,Trudy,Switeck,Zito,and Castillo. This is by far the best movie of the year,if you never see this film, then you have missed out on a great piece in cinema. This is Mann's best work since Heat. This is a Best Picture Nominee, and if they don't think so were they are just a bunch of overpaid political saps. I went with a friend that had never seen the show and he found it amazing. The story has a lot of detail so pay attention, and the love story might seem a bit long, but trust me it's worth it. So people buckle up for the wildest ride of the yea! VICE is back BABY!
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