August 3, 2006

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Miami Vice (R)
The 1980s police drama gets all street and serious for its big screen update in Miami Vice, a movie that’s replaced the pastels and white suits with gritty reality.

OK, not reality so much as “reality” — the extra-hardcore undercover investigation by Detective Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Detective Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) borders on the ridiculous at times with its clandestine meetings of drug cartel executives and its illicit night outings to Havana. The boys are called in to work a super-secret case after federal agents are killed due to a suspected leak at one of the many agencies involved in the case. Crockett greases up his hair and Tubbs, er, well he doesn’t get to do much but look concerned, especially when Crockett strikes up a relationship with Isabella (Li Gong), one of the drug dealers they start working with. For extra “street,” the plot, which twists and meanders but never rushes in the Miami heat, eventually expands to include some Aryan brotherhood types, some double crosses within the drug organization and a few scenes wherein serious, suit-wearing higher-ups in the justice system argue about reigning in the duo or letting them “take it to the limit one more time.”

Wonder if the Eagles got any royalty payments for the painfully stilted use of a song lyric?

Asked by an explosion-loving guy what I thought of Miami Vice, I told him that when he got the movie from Netflix some eight months from now, he should fast forward to the shooting and the speed boats and the occasional shot of a girl’s derrière and he would enjoy the movie well enough. At nearly two and a half hours, the movie drags, taking way too long to get from the over-explained setup to the obvious outcome. The criminal-underworld-meets-jazzy-cool tone that Michael Mann established so well in Collateral has clearly been attempted here but the results are muddled. Any chemistry between Farrell and Foxx is lost in all the heavy lifting done to simulate chemistry between Farrell and Gong (they produce not sparks but, at most, the occasional puff of smoke). This is grim, dangerous, difficult work, the movie tells us over and over and over again about the policing style of Tubbs and Crockett, but it never shows us why (the detectives make a drug deal with all the tension and energy of a couple buying a dish washer — ooo, you got the $30 rebate? Smooth).

With all the soapy crime possibilities, I went to Miami Vice hoping for the fun escapism read of an airport crime novel. Instead, we get the middling episode of a moderately entertaining cop show. C.

— Amy Diaz


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