Miami Vice Review

Jul 28, 2006 | 4:34am EDT

Assuming you’ll be able to understand about half of what’s being said due to the mumbling and thick accents here’s the gist of this Miami Vice: James “Sonny” Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) are the unsmiling leaders of a top-notch Miami-Dade vice squad whose job it is to take down the bad guys. But when they go deep undercover to expose yet another global drug cartel—which includes factions of the Aryan brotherhood (nice bunch)--their lives are put on the line especially after Crockett ends up falling for Chinese-Cuban Isabella (Gong Li) an intoxicating player for the other side. So back and forth we go: The good guys have the drugs; the bad guys want them back; the boys drive speed boats real fast have sex with their girls in the shower—blah blah blah—until finally some action. And when it all goes down it goes down hard. [Cue the synthetic drum solo.] Although you do miss a bit of that Don Johnson spirit Farrell and Foxx actually hold up just fine as the re-envisioned Crockett and Tubbs minus the jovial rapport and pink T-shirts. They look good in the Armani suits with stubbly faces and the dark sunglasses talking the talk and wielding firearms like pros. Everyone around them are equally Vice-esque especially the two female detectives—Trudy Joplin and Gina Calabrese—brought back from the original show. Played by Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) and Elizabeth Rodriguez (Blow) respectively these girls simply kick ass. The only one who sticks out like a sore thumb is Gong Li. She looks the part—all steely and indifferent—but once the accomplished Chinese actress (Memoirs of a Geisha) opens her mouth she is way out of her element. It’s actually cringe-worthy watching her try to be tough speaking languages (even Spanish) she is not at all familiar with. And on top of that Gong and Farrell have zero chemistry making their supposedly steamy love scenes tepid indeed. What a waste of good-looking skin. Michael Mann is arguably one of the best writer/directors of crime drama today having crafted such sleek hard-hitters as Heat and Collateral. Returning to the innovative ‘80s show that helped put him on the map must have been a no-brainer even if he was reluctant to do it at first. Apparently  Mann wanted to make Vice originally as a gritty feature film but got pigeonholed by the network. Maybe that was good thing because in holding back a bit  Mann managed to make it one of the coolest crime series ever combining pulse-racing action with synergized music. But after getting burnt out by the network grind Mann is back to revisit the Vice world again taking it in the direction he originally planned. This Miami Vice is a hard cruel place almost too serious. There’s the little Mann stamps all over it—the overhead shots the clipped dialogue the grainy night vistas—but what’s happened between the first Vice and now is how tired the subject matter has become. Undercover cops/drug smuggling movies are old hat something we’ve seen played out hundreds of times before. And unfortunately Mann offers nothing new. Maybe he should have just left well enough alone.

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