If you’re expecting to see alligators, one-piece bathing suits and loafers with no socks, check out Spike TV at 3 a.m. If you want to see a Ferrari F430, no bathing suits and an excellent filmmaker at his best, go see “Miami Vice.”
Michael Mann, who was the executive producer for the TV show “Miami Vice” (1984-1989), provides an update to the show that enabled Don Johnson to survive the likes of an underrated singing career and Melanie Griffith.
This is Vice circa 2006 – edgy, raw and explosive. Mann wrote and directed the update, and his fingerprints are everywhere. The shots in the movie are amazing. The movie follows detectives James “Sonny” Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) of the Miami Police Department. Right away, Mann pushes you into a Miami nightclub, no credits, no intro, you are there. Your only greeting; a Jay-Z/Linkin Park song, and the feeling that something bad is about to happen.
Be prepared – Mann does not direct to the lowest common denominator. There will be lingo you don’t understand and characters that appear to have no initial purpose. Be patient, it will come to you in due time, and when it does, it will punch you in the mouth.
Crockett and Tubbs are plunged head long into a sordid world of drug running, gunfights and money laundering after a tip from an FBI informant whose life is in danger.
The test becomes whether they (particularly Crockett) can go that deep undercover and remember who they are.
Farrell has been criticized for lackluster performances in his recent films, (“Alexander” and “The New World”) but he plays Crockett well in this movie. Reviews have been mixed over his performance in “Vice.” Crockett is a blunt, troubled character and Farrell plays him that way. He won’t blow audiences away, he gets the nod just for his outrageous mullet and handlebar mustache, which may be the only objects in the movie borrowed from the ’80s.
Foxx is rock-solid as Tubbs, which is a tough gig, considering Tubbs shows about as much emotion as Ben Stein in a spelling bee.
The villains, as in every Mann movie, are believable and look like they’ve either done a nickel in San Quentin or they resurrected Pablo Escobar.
Luis Tosar, is excellent as kingpin (and that cannot be stressed enough, this man would scare Chuck Norris). Tosar is bleak, but very calculating.
The plot is a series of twists and turns, while negotiating these cinematic chicanes, the viewer should pay attention to all of the cool (and there is no other way to put them) shots in the film. The shots are supposed to be filler for the story line but end up as the lasting impression on a beautifully-crafted film.
Whether it is Crockett putting the Ferrari through its paces on the freeway, or Tubbs flying in a couple hundred kilos of cocaine from Paraguay, the film is visually stunning in almost every shot.
The close ups are shot with what looks like a hand held camera and are visceral.
Mann is amazing at immersing audiences into gritty cities and locales. Whether it is a parking garage in Miami or a bar in Cuba, Mann and cinematographer Dion Beebe are top notch.
I actually started drinking mojitos because of this movie. How the 63-year-old Mann could make such a cool movie is unbeknownst to me, I just hope I figure it out in 43 years.
I have been touting this movie for a year, and it lived up to the hype. While it is not the next “Heat” it every Jerry Bruckheimer movie tries to be and never will be and a damn good time for $9, just remember to leave your gator loafers at home. If you do wear them, at least throw on some socks.