Miami Vice (2006)
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Gong Li, Naomie Harris, Ciarán Hinds, John Ortiz
Directed by: Michael Mann
When I first heard there was going to be a movie remake of Miami Vice, my first reaction was why? Then I heard that Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx were playing the leads, and my reaction was “sounds about right”. Since TV remakes usually suck, and the show was a little before my time anyway (although, I did manage to watch a few episodes, as I’ve decided that my parents let me watch a lot of inappropriate TV), I really had no desire to see this movie.
Then, I found out it was being directed by Michael Mann, the man behind the fantastic Collateral and The Insider (along with Heat, which I’ve never seen). The got my attention a bit. Then I saw the teaser trailer for it last Christmas, and was surprised to discover that it looked pretty good. Mann sure can make a city come to life at night on film, I’ll give him that. So when the movie got decent reviews, I figured it worth a shot.
Well, Mann is still a pretty good director, able to accomplish some innovative shots throughout the movie. He brings the neon underbelly of Miami to life, along with grungy Haiti, and lush Havana. On top of that, he delivers some truly memorable action sequences, harshly presented with no score and a cinéma vérité-type style that makes the scenes resemble a high-production episode of Cops more than the pastel-cheese of Miami Vice. The final act features some truly spectacular violence that manages to rise above the standard cop movie shootout, given some genuine impact thanks to Mann’s technique.
I only wish these truly impressive achievements could’ve been saved for a better movie. Cause this one? Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked. What a horrible movie. Why didn’t I trust that initial instinct when I heard there’d be a Colin Farrell/Jamie Foxx Miami Vice movie? If I were watching this movie at home, I would’ve shut it down about 30 minutes in, and have been grateful for the reprieve. Instead, I was trapped in the theatre, especially since my wife and I had invited someone else to watch it with us.
Michael Mann does infuse the movie with style, at the complete expense of substance. There is nothing substantive here, from the shallow plot, to the macho posturing, to the empty sequence of sentence fragments that passes as dialogue. Foxx, whom I find to be a tiresome egotist outside of his movies, actually manages to inject some sympathy and humility to Detective Ricardo Tubbs, with what little he is given. Not enough to make us care about his character, but perhaps a bit more than what he was given. Farrell, on the other hand, looks and acts as greasy as his tabloid reputation suggests of him. Still, it’s hard to judge either acting performance with what they’re given, which is crap. Gong Li manages to steal most of her scenes, seemingly giving her character depth by her mere presence when the script fails to do so for her. But, like some of Mann’s techniques and action sequences, it doesn’t save this movie, but rather, makes you wish you were seeing her in a different movie. A movie that didn’t suck so much.
Ultimately, one doesn’t go to a movie like Miami Vice expecting an abundance of substance, Michael Mann or not. Which brings me to the movie’s ultimate failing: for the first two-thirds of the movie, it was unforgivably boring. I was looking around the blackened theatre, tapping my non-existent fingernails, yawning, and apologising to my wife for having taken her to this useless exercise in style. This should simply not happen. It’s not like I’m the type of person who needs quick cuts and constant explosions to keep my attention either, and this one completely lost mine until the final third of the movie.
So, if you’ve managed to avoid this movie thus far (and its box office suggests that most of you have), then keep on doing so. I’m sure some of the techniques that made the final act interesting will get used somewhere else, so don’t even bother watching this movie to see those. There’s no reason for this movie to exist, so there’s even less reason for anyone to watch it.