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Miami Vice (2006)
Cool. Bring your iPod to drown out the talking.
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.