Miami Vice review by The Grim Ringler

How on earth I wound up in a theater watching an update to cheesy eighties show is beyond me. I love director Michael Mann, sure, but I had no interest in this film and had even professed I wasn’t going to see it. Why? Why support Hollywood’s silly need to do everything BUT make original films? Ah, but then I saw some of the trailers, and heard some of the buzz, and was like, hmmm, perhaps… The dealmaker was that I had no air conditioning, it was over ninety degrees out, and the movie was five bucks at a local bijou. There you have it. I was curious, it was hot, and this is sometimes the makings of a perfect storm. Before I jump in though, I shall say this as well – when I dig a movie, I dig it for what it is, generally, and not what it might have been. I lay out a lot of ‘8’s when movies accomplish what they set out to do – entertain, enlighten, scare – then I am happy as a bee. Just wanted you to know – a film doesn’t have to change the world for me, just do what I wanted it to do. Dig?

The world of Miami was never as exciting as it’s made to be in films, television, and the occasionally entertaining Miami Heat game, but when you’re in a theater, it’s all bullets and buttered bodies. Life is all hustle, all bustle, and lots of bullets. Undercover agents Sonny and Rico (Colin Farrell, and Jaime Foxx respectively) are used to running deep undercover, so deep sometimes that the exit all but disappears. They are members of the Miami police department and are used to getting what they want. Living like high end gangsters, with flashy suits, flashy cars, and flashy women, the two mix and mingle, with the rest of their undercover crew, with the movers and shakers in the crime world of Miami, taking down the biggest dealers or criminals they are able to. When one of their friends, an informant who now works with the FBI, calls them to tell them to look after his family. When Sonny and Rico track him down they find out that someone in the FBI or one of its partner agencies sold out their friend and his family has paid for that with their lives. Wanting revenge for their friend and wanting to track down the people behind an international arms and drug ring, Rico and Sonny forcefully volunteer themselves for deep undercover duty, duty that may well swallow them whole. Making themselves out to be international goods runners known for secretive runs and a clean record of service, the two quickly prove themselves to the watch people for the real man they are after - Arcángel de Jesús Montoya – a cold blooded arms and drug dealer who is masterminding an operation that effects much of the world. Sonny begins to get too caught up in the undercover fantasy he and Rico are living though when he becomes involved with a business associate of Montoya, something that could prove to be dangerous to everyone involved.

It’s hard not to become involved in the filmmaking style of director Michael Mann. This guy KNOWS how to shoot action. Not relying on explosions or bloodshed, Mann focuses the action on characters and builds out from that. There are gunfights and characters die, but when all that happens he has built a foundation beneath them so that when they do die you know who they are, why they died, and oft-times care that they are dead. He understands what so many action directors don’t – and that’s that the action is meaningless without the human drama. The great part about the film is that it takes the germ of an idea that sparked the hit show – two men, friends, going deep undercover in the seedy Miami crime world – and builds from that. The style and fashion is still here but it isn’t the highlight, the characters are. There is an immediacy to the film that is hard to break free of as well. You may not always know what the hell is going on, or what it all means, but dammit, you care. What really got me about Miami Vice was that, so far, this has been the only action film this summer that I was interested in seeing and left feeling like I had seen a solid, good action movie. It seems like Hollywood forgot how to make them or something.

On the bad side, there are at least two plotlines that fall to the wayside, though I am betting that has more to do with the scenes being cut due to time than Mann not following through. It’s a long movie, and at times a slow movie. There is a lot of talking and walking, and there are two totally silly romantic scenes set in showers that make me officially call for a moratorium on shower sex scenes in films. The film may be a little too complicated for its own good as well. I loved the movie, but really, with the white supremacists, the drug dealers, a snitch in the FBI, and the romantic side-stories, it gets to be a lot to keep straight. No wonder the guys lose themselves sometimes.

When it was all said and done though, I really dug the hell out of Miami Vice. It’s not perfect, it’s a little long, a little complicated, and the end just too neat, but it’s as good of an action film (pure action film without pirates mind you) as you’re apt to see this summer. Well acted, beautifully shot, and completely engaging, this is definitely worth a look. If you were worried that this was going to be too similar to the original series, rest assured, other than the base ideas and characters, it has little to do with the world of no socks, and bad acting.


7 out of 10 Jackasses
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