Friday, July 28, 2006

Miami Vice

Written and directed by Michael Mann, based on his TV show co-created by Anthony Yerkovich

Last week, M. Night Shyamalan made a movie that I couldn't quite put my finger on as far as liking it, and that should have been a red flag. Instead, I got caught up in the mood of Lady in the Water and ended up feeling like I really enjoyed it. A week later, I wonder about retracting my review of it, and discussions of the movie later sort of made me think, "Yeah, that movie could have been better." I was dumbstruck as I watched Michael Mann's Miami Vice, getting caught up in the same sort of dilemma.

The story: Detectives Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) go undercover after a big operation that includes every single form of law enforcement known to man blows its own cover in the attempt to nail drug dealers. They need to find out who the leak is in the various agencies while posing as highly skilled drug-runners. At one level is Jose Yero (John Ortiz) who is thought to be behind it all, but there's an even bigger fish, Jesus Montoya (Luis Tocar) and his wife/partner Isabella (Chinese star Gong Li, who last had to struggle through English for Memoirs of a Geisha and now needs to know Spanish too). These bad guys are not be trifled with, have strict rules...stretch, yawn.

Crockett makes a mistake by falling for Isabella, and they start banging each other silly, and she is surprisingly upfront about it with her husband, who doesn't seem to mind as long as feelings aren't involved. Of course, Crockett deals with everything everyone who ever goes undercover in movies has to fight--making sure he's on the right side in the end. Good thing good ol' Tubbs is there.

The film is night and day throughout; it's good, then it's terrible. The cinematography, using new digital cameras can look ultra-slick especially during night scenes, then look like The Blair Witch Project the next. It has the best and worst parts of Mann's classic Heat, unfortunately the worst outweighs the best--particularly in the overponderance of its characters, which in Heat was forgivable because the characters were well drawn. Here, there's a long section of the movie that's as grating as a John Popper harmonica solo--it just weighs the movie down and makes you fidget and wonder if there's something better on TV right now, like the original series. Also, not to be rude, but there are a lot of foreigners in this movie who are hard to understand. I give them props for trying, and I'm sure they're all good people, but trying to understand their dialogue in a movie filled with plot confusions made the movie difficult to follow at times.

Also, actors looked a little uncomfortable saying some of their lines, especially Foxx, who goes a long way to look and talk tough but I just want to laugh at everything he says. There's a lot of dialogue with the appearance of toughness that just sounds silly and stupid. I would have liked to see what David Mamet could have done to punch this up a bit--we might have had a winner.


At 7/28/2006 07:13:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

And how bad is that Phil Collins cover; hopefully that's only played over the closing credits or something.
Won't get to see this for at least a couple of weeks probably, but I'm looking forward to it; a little less after reading your review, but I've heard some pretty cool things about it along with what you said.
Love the John Popper reference; hope I don't find it that boring; can't imagine anything more boring than a Blues Traveler's album.


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