Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Strong Violence, Language and some Sexual Content
Directed by: Michael Mann
Written by: Michael Mann
(based on the TV series MIAMI VICE)
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Naomie Harris, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Justin Theroux, Gong Li, Luis Tosar, John Oritz, Ciaran Hinds, John Hawkes, Tom Towles & Eddie Marsan
This is one of the most baffling projects to be conceived by a big name studio. Michael Mann, who worked on the original 80’s MIAMI VICE television series, was interested in turning his hit show into a gritty summer blockbuster with a huge budget. Though Mann had his share of stellar movies up to this point (most notably HEAT and COLLATERAL), MIAMI VICE was a misfire on pretty much every conceivable level. The final product winds up as a tinkered with and undercooked would-be actioner that almost seems like a single episode of the series was stretched for over two full hours and every bit of excitement was surgically removed.
I am not a massive fan of the original TV show by any means, but I did watch some episodes in the last year. They’re cheesy now, but there’s a sense of fun to the silly cop-drama. This 2006 reboot follows Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs, two undercover agents who get deep into their work. Though they’re both rough around the edges, the duo still manage to excel at catching bad guys. After one of their informants is compromised, Crockett and Tubbs are assigned to infiltrate a highly sophisticated drug ring. The cartel operation is a lot bigger than originally expected and the two cops find themselves confronted with a huge amount of danger, especially when Crockett begins romancing the drug lord’s girlfriend.
From everything I’ve read, the production of MIAMI VICE was not a happy one. Apparently, the actors were difficult to work with and Michael Mann didn’t make the wisest directorial decisions (filming in questionable weather conditions and going to areas that were dangerous to his actors’ well-being). I wish I could say that this all paid off in an action-packed, intense thrill ride that’s exciting from frame one until the closing credits. However, that is not the case as MIAMI VICE seems to actively keep the viewer at a distance from the simplistic storyline and its main characters. I was never sucked into the movie the way that I should have been. The story also drags its feet with a bloated running time that’s made worse with an excess of unnecessary montages that use so-so music. It almost felt like this movie consisted of 60% music video footage.
The story isn’t much better as it feels like Mann picked a dusty 80’s MIAMI VICE episode script off his shelf and sucked every ounce of fun from it. Jamie Foxx is okay as Tubbs, pulling the tough guy act that he has revisited in later roles (THE KINGDOM, DJANGO UNCHAINED). Colin Farrell is horribly miscast as Crockett sporting a laughable hair-style and non-convincing raspy voice. It certainly didn’t do either of these actors any favors that their characters are so bland and unlikable. A few recognizable faces pop up and are quickly forgotten. These include Eddie Marsan as an informant, Ciaran Hinds as an FBI agent with ulterior motives, and Luis Tosar as the forgettable kingpin.
There’s a halfway decent action scene that kicks off MIAMI VICE, but the film quickly boils down to one boring moment after the next with no excitement or tension. The climactic showdown is also a half-heartedly executed (and rewritten) series of incoherent shots of people firing wildly in certain directions. The handheld, sometimes shaky, camera work doesn’t work for this film either. Mann has used this style before in better projects (e.g. COLLATERAL), but it feels very cheap this time around. It’s annoying when the camera seems to be shaking for no discernible reason, especially as it’s focused on the face of someone having a simple conversation.
This 2006 version of MIAMI VICE might have been good if there were a sense of fun, excitement, or even a pulse to the movie. It feels like everyone was phoning it in to bank on a well-known TV series of the 80’s. That’s not exactly a novel concept, but other movies based on TV shows are far better than this lifeless flick (e.g. 21 JUMP STREET or STARSKY & HUTCH). Hell, even DUKES OF HAZZARD was slightly more accomplished. I realize that all the films mentioned were comedies, but MIAMI VICE could have benefitted from better characters, better action, and all around better writing/directing. This is especially disappointing coming from the same man who gave us HEAT and COLLATERAL. Overall, just watch three hours of the original TV show instead of this unwanted, unneeded reboot that nobody asked for (aside from Mann and Jamie Foxx).