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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.74%
Worth A Look: 10.53%
Just Average: 17.89%
Pretty Crappy: 23.16%

8 reviews, 47 user ratings

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Miami Vice
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by Rob Gonsalves

"How is this even a "Miami Vice" movie?"
1 stars

I have fond memories of the '80s show "Miami Vice" (it fits right in there with "Moonlighting" and "St. Elsewhere" among the oddball, only-in-the-'80s series). Colorful yet morose, though not without comic relief, the show was a one-two punch of music and unforgettable moments.

All these years later I remember the 1985 episode "Evan," with William Russ as a freaky undercover agent who opened the show by emptying a Mac-10 into some mannequins to the strains of Peter Gabriel's spooky "Rhythm of the Heat"; he ended it on the receiving end of a gun, while Gabriel's eligiac "Biko" wailed. Another notorious episode, "Out Where the Buses Don't Run," ended with corpses discovered walled up in a cop's house while Mark Knopfler sadly mumbled his way through "Brothers in Arms."

Those two episodes, more than twenty years old now, come back to me far more vividly than the new Miami Vice film does a few hours after I've seen it. Writer-director Michael Mann was the show's executive producer, and, stealing equally from MTV and Brian De Palma's Scarface, he inaugurated a neon-noir style simmering in pleasure and sin. Miami Vice was a movie on your little screen every Friday night. The actual movie, ironically, looks like television -- bad television. Apparently married to high-def video, regardless of how crappy it looks during available-light night shooting, Mann has made an extended Miami Vice episode (very extended, at two hours and twenty-six minutes) that would've been laughed off the show for lack of style. Or, rather, it has a style -- pompous, gritty non-style.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Michael Mann only undertook this project to prevent a farcical Miami Vice movie (along the lines of the Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson Starsky & Hutch) from being made. In every way, it's a step backward for him. The story is more of the same grim, clenched, masculine bang-bang familiar from Mann's Thief and Heat, with no special quirks other than having Gong Li as a Chinese-Cuban (huh?) gangster's assistant. Once more, Crockett and Tubbs (here Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx) go undercover to infiltrate a drug ring, and that's pretty much all there is to it. Mann may think he's being minimalist and rigorous -- paring away most of the show's humor and personality and cutting, Mamet-like, down to the bone -- but this is a pretty heavy and lumbering skeleton.

I appreciated a firefight late in the game -- Mann eschews the usual blam-blam sound effects and opts for war-zone realism, with automatics going thupthupthup and bullets clanking loudly against metal. But this Miami Vice is lugubrious, its dialogue purely functional when it isn't tough-guy attitudinizing (my favorite was a female cop's rewrite of Dirty Harry's "Do you feel lucky, punk?" speech). Farrell and Foxx are not without charm, but you wouldn't know it here -- they mostly scowl and mutter throughout the proceedings. Farrell lacks Don Johnson's inimitable knowingness (Johnson's manner said "Look, I know you're scamming me; what else you got?"), and Foxx misses Philip Michael Thomas' suave self-regard (though his hairline is more razor-sharp than ever). Typically, the few actors allowed to break out of the malaise -- John Hawkes as a panicked snitch, Tom Towles as a heavy who can spot a fed mole a mile away -- aren't around much. Also typically, the women are bitterly pragmatic but thinly written -- though that isn't quite sexism here, as the men are equally paper-ish.

The more I think about it, the more I would've welcomed that Miami Vice comedy -- sure, bring on Will Ferrell as Crockett and Will Smith as Tubbs -- because, at the very least, it would've brought back those neons and those pastels. In a satirical way, it would've respected the show more than this movie does. Michael Mann seems to have set out to extricate everything that made the show fun and original -- either that or he retooled an existing generic cop script, renamed the characters, and slapped the Miami Vice title on it.

The movie's soundtrack, with its awful Nonpoint (boy, there's an apt name for the band) cover of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" and its posturing grunge-grime rock, completes the blasphemy. They couldn't have brought the Jan Hammer theme song out of mothballs just for old time's sake?

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14888&reviewer=416
originally posted: 07/29/06 20:43:51
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User Comments

6/30/09 pantera michael mann sucks 1 stars
6/14/09 Jeff Wilder Can't say I "enjoyed" it. But it's one film I'll never forget. 3 stars
6/13/09 JR If this were made first, there never would have been a tv series. Crap. 1 stars
9/29/08 Jukebox Heroe Mumbling fast a new language? Soundtrack pathetic. turn off ur brain 4 this. 1 stars
8/20/08 Shaun Wallner Ugg boring!! 1 stars
6/24/08 dan halberg Probably would have been better if it was set in the 80's. 2 stars
7/24/07 Amy Boring, stupid, poorly filmed gibberish 1 stars
7/24/07 hoppy rob gonsalves review of this film says it perfectly. Where's the personality? 2 stars
7/21/07 ben dover very underated slick and stylish 4 stars
6/05/07 David Pollastrini bad series, worse movie 1 stars
4/12/07 Johnnyfog If I wanted to watch "Heat", I'd just rent it again 1 stars
2/22/07 Matt Another TV show hits the big screen like a lump of dog turd. Absolute rubbish. 1 stars
1/21/07 Indrid Cold If there was any magic and chemistry in the show, this sure doesn't capture it. 3 stars
1/13/07 Xavier Can't understand a fucking word of dialogue. No chemistry. The worst from Mann, ever. 1 stars
1/03/07 mr jackson piece of shit, i turned it off, would look bad even as saturday afternoon entertainment 1 stars
1/01/07 Joe Dull, cliched plot. Minimal action. Zero in common w/show except Crockett & Tubbs. It sucks 2 stars
12/27/06 Brutus A complete failure from pretentious Mann 1 stars
10/30/06 Adam Best action movie since the 80's, Snobs will overanalyze. Better than "The Departed" 5 stars
10/15/06 William Goss Sparse action undermined by plodding plot. Sex and staring at sunsets not that compelling. 2 stars
10/12/06 spacecowboy it movie retains the spirit of the original. any fan of the original would recognize that. 5 stars
9/12/06 Agent Sands The Ben-Hur or Spartacus of cop films. 4 stars
8/29/06 Nick not even worth this comment! 1 stars
8/28/06 Frenzy Not as bad as I others say 3 stars
8/26/06 Captain Craig Only proves if you take a shower with someone nothing bad will happen to you. Ugh! 1 stars
8/23/06 jake a shoolboy could have come up with a better plot. CRAP characters no substance or story 1 stars
8/22/06 MP Bartley A terse, adult, slow burning thriller. 4 stars
8/13/06 Marty mann whipped up some action, but boy was this movie dull. foxx - wasted 2 stars
8/10/06 michael long live the 80's when they knew how to make good movies 4 stars
8/09/06 Me You're all clowns 5 stars
8/08/06 Elizabeth S A big disappointment from Mann; intended gritty night scenes are UGLY 2 stars
8/08/06 Mansi Dido Okay. But not a patch on the original Crockett and Tubbs - now they REALLY had style. 3 stars
8/07/06 JLo Should have cast Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas 1 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant Boring. Confusing. Forgettable. Haven't seen this many 'shower scenes' since 'Top Gun'. 1 stars
8/05/06 millersxing Michael Mann's Vice City: it's a sexy, glamorous, and dangerous underworld. 5 stars
8/03/06 Andrew The only thing great about it is how it looks, and for 135 million it sure as hell should 2 stars
8/02/06 JJ The movie guy said "Good luck with that." when I bought my ticket... 2 stars
8/01/06 Agent Sands Very enjoyable and grandiose. The Ben-Hur or Magnolia or Good, Bad and Ugly of cop films. 5 stars
7/31/06 The Man Mann Rankings: Last of Mohicans, Insider, Heat, Miami Vice, Collateral, all awesome 5 stars
7/31/06 MRM Not enough car/boat chase, HEAT had more violence, no awards here 2 stars
7/31/06 J wow i couldnt believe how bad this movie was...the audience started BOOING at the end 1 stars
7/31/06 jcjs fun, nice innuendos, great acting, visually sweet, bang bang nice, worked for me, pleased 5 stars
7/30/06 Peter Smith Lame, over-hyped 2 stars
7/30/06 Ole Man Bourbon Some really great Mann-esque touches, but also much stupid, silly, pointless crap 3 stars
7/29/06 great colin farrell was masterful in this potenial oscar worthy film 5 stars
7/29/06 Troy M. Grzych One of the worst films I've seen...ever. I had to struggle to make myself stay and finish 1 stars
7/28/06 ahnold Pure SHIT. No plot. No dialogue for actors. Just visuals. OVER-HYPED 1 stars
7/28/06 Colt Cool! GTA: VICE CITY - THE MOVIE!!!!! Oh, and MANHUNTER sucked donkey balls... 1 stars
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  28-Jul-2006 (R)
  DVD: 05-Dec-2006



Directed by
  Michael Mann

Written by
  Michael Mann

  Jamie Foxx
  Colin Farrell
  Gong Li
  Naomie Harris
  Ciarán Hinds
  Justin Theroux

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