Miami Vice

Miami Vice

Film review by: Witney Seibold


            It may be yet another unnecessary adaptation of a lame 1980s television program, but director Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral), finally managed to do this kind of movie right. Seeing as it was taken from the 1980s, the plot situations may seem familiar, but they never feel contrived. There are action scenes, but they never feel like over-pumped adolescent bullet-fests. The two leads are tough and grizzled, but never come across as caricatures. The leading lady is sexy without being vampish. The bad guys are indeed crooks, but never seem like growling supervillains (which is especially impressive, as the crooks are all superrich South American drug lords and growling bald white-supremacists).


            The story is a bit hard to follow, but here’s what I saw: Sonny Crocket (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) work the vice squad in Miami. This isn’t the glitzy, bikini-clad, fun-‘n’-sun Miami we’re used to, but a cobalt-blue nightworld of drugs and hookers. One night they get a call from an undercover informant that he’s been found out, and his case has gone belly-up. It turns out the local crooks have a new technique for identifying undercover agents. They are then deputized by the Feds to go extra-super-undercover to find the source of most of Miami’s drugs. They become savvy drug couriers in a dangerous underground. To make matters worse, Sonny begins having an affair with the drug lord’s manager/moll (Gong Li), and both his partner and the audience can never really tell if he’s doing it to get more info, or if he’s genuinely falling in lust with the woman. There is also a shootout, a kidnapping, and a few other twists that I alternately will not reveal and was a bit confused by.


            Mann shot and edited the film in a digital grainy visual style, which may have been a little ugly (I dislike most digital filmmaking technology), but managed to keep things moving nicely. The brisk pacing may have swallowed some of the plot details, but not to the point when anything seemed so unclear as to be hopelessly lost. The screenplay was full of almost Mamet-ian shop-talk which made the world of impatient cops and seedy criminals seem all the more authentic (even more so than the much-praised work in Soderbergh’s Traffic). Michael Mann is a talented film director, and has made a very good and very adult cop thriller out of a cheesy 1980s icon.

 July 28th, Universal Pictures

Published in: on August 28, 2007 at 8:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

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