** (out of 5)
July 28, 2006
Colin Farrell as SONNY CROCKETT
Jamie Foxx as RICARDO TUBBS
Gong Li as ISABELLA
Naomie Harris as TRUDY JOPLIN
Ciaran Hinds as AGENT FUJIMA
Justin Theroux as LARRY ZITO
Barry Shabaka Henley as MARTIN CASTILLO
Luis Tosar as ARCÁNGEL DE JESÚS MONTOYA
John Ortiz as JOSÉ YERO
Elizabeth Rodriguez as GINA CALABRESE
Directed by: Michael Mann
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I love the 80s. So do a lot of people. In fact, VH1 felt strongly enough about it to do multiple television series about the decade. However, I think some people are trying to escape. Michael Mann is one of those people.
You’d think Michael Mann would love the 80s. It helped make him tons of money. And he made one of the most entertaining and image-defining television shows of its day. “Miami Vice” was the coolest thing out on the market in the mid-80s. It helped define a generation of style, fashion, cars and generally everything hip.
But I say that Mann is trying to escape the 80s because he fought so hard to destroy his own creation. As cool, hip, edgy and thrilling the original television show was, this new film version is not.
It all begins with the vision, which is almost entirely in control of the director. Instead of show the hot, flashy side of Miami, Mann chose to focus on the seedy underbelly. For the few scenes of the film that actually take place in Florida, Mann shoots it with a muted tone, washing out all the brilliant colors that can be seen all over the southern peninsula.
Regardless of how much they actually shot in Miami, this movie could have easily been shot in Detroit considering how Mann avoided showing the city. The second unit photography was great, showing beautiful landscapes and seascapes, but this is all but void in the first unit stuff.
Colin Farrell plays Sonny Crockett, and Jamie Foxx plays Ricardo Tubbs. They’re two vice cops in Miami who go undercover to strike at a South American drug lord. As they get deeper into the job, they get wrapped up into the lifestyle. Crockett starts a fling with the drug lord’s henchwoman, and Tubbs’ girlfriend back home becomes a target for the bad guys.
I guess I was expecting too much of the old television show in this movie, and it didn’t deliver any of that. They didn’t even use the theme song, for crying out loud. How can you make “Miami Vice” without the music?
As far as Michael Mann modern action films go, this is only so-so. The biggest weakness is the murky plot and the presence of Colin Farrell, who was not the best choice for Sonny. He spent too much time trying to look cool, and not enough time acting. However, he did manage to look sleazier than Don Johnson did in the series, which was quite a feat in itself.
Foxx was great as Tubbs, but unfortunately, this was really Crockett’s movie. Foxx played a low second fiddle to Colin Farrell, which was a mistake. He disappears for long stretches of time throughout the film, and I kept wishing they used him a little more than they did.
Sadly, this isn’t really “Miami Vice.” If it were named “Scuzzy Drug Cops,” I might have liked it more, but it just trampled on some great television memories from my past.
Hopefully Hollywood stops ruining great shows. Next thing you’ll know, they’ll try to screw up “Matt Houston.”