Film Review - Miami Vice - Review by RUTH SHARPE.jpg

Film Review – Miami Vice – Review by RUTH SHARPE

Well, the effects are good…

THOSE OF you expecting a big screen revamp of the hit TV series, should approach this film with caution. Director Michael Mann has set out to create a film with new characters and a differing style to the 80s drama. The fact that they share the same name is nothing but a cleverly used marketing ploy by the producers.

The original series, which ran from 1984-89, featured Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as two Miami police detectives working undercover. Although the story follows the same two characters, the modern day film has been glamourised in true Hollywood style, hiding the original in a flurry of dramatic effects and action sequences.

After a tragic security breach in the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force (JIATF), run by FBI Agent Fujima (Ciarán Hinds), the FBI asks for help from the Miami authorities, who are not part of the compromised group. This assignment goes to detectives James ‘Sonny’ Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo ‘Rico’ Tubbs (Jamie Foxx).

Going undercover as offshore boat racers and outlaw smugglers, they must infiltrate a drug smuggling ring run by the mysterious Arcángel de Jesús Montoya (Luis Tosar) and his ultra-efficient girl, Isabella (Gong Li). The case lures Crockett and Tubbs into a dirty and gritty underworld, where identity and fabrication become blurred. This is made more complicated when Crockett falls for Isabella and when Tubb’s loved one (Naomi Harris) is assaulted. José Yero (John Ortiz), second in command to the “Archangel”, suspects Crockett’s and Tubbs’ false identities and attempts to strike hardest at them by targeting those they love most, leading to the inevitable giant shoot out.

The movie is that simple, but Mann has made it dense and difficult, by loading his script with impossible to follow, high-tech cop speak and bafflingly complex police procedure. Between this, the tortured accents and the cast’s uniformly garbled delivery, more than half the dialogue is undecipherable. As a result, the comedic edge, familiar with the TV series, is also lost.

But, even though it’s tough to follow what people are talking about, the story is so straightforward that you gradually figure out what’s going on, and the style is so fluid, and the Caribbean visuals so evocative, that you don’t have to do much thinking.

The action is stylish and intense, and produces a gripping, visually interesting motion picture. The camera work and set design produce a real sense of place and it is a great example that shows a story should be told visually. Mann is well known for always experimenting with new ways to shoot movies and creates fascinating sequences for the viewers to follow.

From an acting perspective, neither Farrell nor Foxx present themselves at their best and there is an obvious lack of chemistry between the two. The script is loaded with tired cop movie clichés and there is a complete lack of subtext to the story. Given Mann’s status as one of Hollywood’s most inventive, intelligent and multilayered of storytellers, with movies such as Heat and Collateral to his name, there’s definitely room for disappointment here.

America’s recent attack of hurricanes hindered a lot of the filming during production, with over seven days of filming lost to the extreme weather conditions. This led Mann and his crew to the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil, and stretched the budget to an estimated 135 million dollars. After watching the film, you may leave thinking that the money would have been better spent on hurricane relief ….


*   missable

* *   reasonable

* * *   entertaining

* * * * * very good

* * * * * outstanding