Farrell finds a Fox and a Foxx
Michael Mann may have been executive producer on the 1980s TV show but what he brings to the big screen remake of "Miami Vice" has little to do with the once popular TV show. Other than the names of Crockett and Tubbs and a convoluted storyline which feels like a drawn out episode "Miami Vice" the movie could have been called anything. As such I am not entirely sure how I feel about it because for all it's cheesiness I enjoyed the 80s show and watching this completely different looking movie isn't what I expected. But then Mann delivers style, from the whole grainy look through to the heavily choreographed action sequences "Miami Vice" the movie oozes style, which to be honest is a good thing because it most certainly doesn't ooze any substance with its convoluted and occasionally incomprehensible storyline being rather unimportant. As such I have to say that "Miami Vice" is entertaining but part of me feels like it shouldn't be called "Miami Vice".
When an informant is killed and a sting goes horribly wrong Miami cops Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell - S.W.A.T.) and Rico Tubbs (Jamie Foxx - Ray) are ordered to go undercover to try and discover the leak in the FBI but also bring down a drug smuggling cartel. Posing as specialists in the art of transporting large quantities of drugs they meet with drug smuggler Jose Yero (John Oritz - Take the Lead) and his associate, Isabella (Li Gong) with the aim of convincing them to hire them. Although Yero is suspicious his boss Montoya (Luis Tosar) is impressed with what Crockett and Tubbs offer. But with Crockett getting romantically entangled with Isabella things start to get very messy and personal.
What is for sure is that the storyline served up in "Miami Vice" the movie wouldn't have been that out of place in the 80s series. Stripped down to the basics, which isn't that hard to do, we have Crockett and Tubbs undercover trying to bust up a drug smuggling ring. That is really it but as you would expect it's dressed up a bit with some romance and as such an emotional dilemma as Crockett finds himself getting romantically involved with Isabella one of the drug rings main people. Add to that some other embellishments such as Tubbs own relationship getting drawn into the mess and a case which goes wrong and you have the storyline, a rather simple storyline which is drawn out to last 134 minutes.
The thing is that whilst the actual storyline is simple it twists and turns all over the blinking place and in doing so becomes a tangled mess. It does mean that to a certain degree you are never entirely sure what will happen and who will possibly die but at the same time your not entirely sure what the heck is going on in the first place. As such the storyline ends up becoming less and less important because it comes too close to spiralling out of control into a complete and utter convoluted mess.
Mann makes up for the lack of interesting storyline by delivering a stylish movie. From the whole look of "Miami Vice", the dark graininess which he also used in "Collateral" works so well to make for a grim, serious looking cop movie rather than the glossy presentation of the original series. Plus the action is spectacular be it a shot of a car and it's passenger being blown apart from a barrage of bullets or the tense stand off at what looks like a trailer park. And there is a sexiness to it all as we have steamy, sensual shower scenes for both the main leads. "Miami Vice" is most certainly a movie which appeals for those who just want visual entertainment and don't care for a well thought out storyline.
Something that I didn't like is the lack of chemistry between Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as Crockett and Tubbs because it never once feels like they are partners who can rely on each other. It does mean that the whole partnership thing doesn't end up a cheesy cliche but it just doesn't work. And that means we have both Farrell and Foxx basically delivering individual performances with no real connection. Farrell actually comes out on top of the two seemingly more comfortable dealing with the convoluted storyline and some dialogue which is mind numbingly dull. But Foxx doesn't do to bad and certainly carries off the action scenes better than Farrell striking a formidable pose when ever he has a gun in his hands.
Aside from Farrell and Foxx well most of the supporting cast fade into the background only really making their presence felt during the action sequence at the trailer park. The exception to the case is Li Gong who plays Isabella who thanks to the romantic entanglement with Crockett has more to do. That more to do is to make her character slightly vulnerable which she does but like the other characters in reality Isabella is two dimensional.
What this all boils down to is that there is some good and some not so good things about "Miami Vice". The good is that in typical Michael Mann fashion it is one stylish movie and if all you are looking for is style and action then it should entertain. But the bad is a storyline which is a mess and ends up unimportant as it delivers little substance and most annoyingly that little substance last for 134 minutes much longer than it needed to. In reality other than a couple of character names "Miami Vice" the movie doesn't really feel anything like "Miami Vice" the TV show and those expecting a remake which recaptures that original style will be left disappointed.