Miami Vice (2006)
Miami Vice (2006)

Genre: Action and Crime Drama Running Time: 2 hrs. 14 min.

Release Date: July 28th, 2006 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Michael Mann Actors: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Gong Li, Naomie Harris, Ciaran Hinds, Justin Theroux, Luis Tosar, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Eddie Marsan, John Hawkes




icardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) and James “Sonny” Crockett (Colin Farrell) are Miami detectives, emphatically recruited to go undercover as drug runners in order to apprehend an infamous trafficker, who the FBI has been tailing for quite some time. After the department’s security is compromised and the original implanted operatives for the case are debunked and murdered, Tubbs and Sonny realize that, as outsiders, they’re the most convenient solution. Never the type to turn down a ridiculously dangerous mission, Tubbs and Sonny are given airtight, false identities to become utterly immersed in the hazardous underworld. After craftily persuading an old informant to contact Jose Yero (John Ortiz), the man in charge of arranging drug transportation, they are eventually introduced to a slew of treacherous characters, including an Aryan hellion and the main kingpin, Arcángel de Jesús Montoya (Luis Tosar).

Director Michael Mann successfully shaved off close to fifteen minutes from his rough cut of the film to create a tighter, better paced theatrical version. Nevertheless, it’s still evident that several other scenes could have also been trimmed to achieve an even slicker structuring. The film opens with a nightclub sequence (having originally unfurled with a lengthy motorboat shot), wherein the duo reenact “Mission: Impossible”-styled communications and covert signals amongst the various deployed officers on the dance floor and those encircling the building. Despite creating an opportunity for predictable, macho, hand-to-hand combat, the entire scenario is essentially pointless, as they are forced to abandon the operation and let the malefactor walk free after they receive a mysterious call from an old contact who is subsequently involved with the main plot. It might establish a tone and a look, but it’s not a fitting way to initiate this particular crime thriller.

The rest of the story maintains a decent swiftness, slowing down most noticeably for the arrival of Isabella (Gong Li), Montoya’s Chinese-Cuban girlfriend. And, of course, both Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell have lengthy sex scenes followed by shower scenes, which remain undisturbed by plot. Although outwardly a drama, there are interspersed scenes of action (all advertising points for the trailer) which, due to their undeniable intensity (featuring some electrifying gunplay), stand out amid the surmounting, duller aspects of the film. The final shootout and the deaths of three prominent villains are done in such an adrenaline-pumping, climactic, and cathartic manner that it’s evident that Michael Mann excels at effectively offing bad guys.

As for the casting, Foxx and Farrell seem slightly out of place both as undercover drug runners and as police officers. Their acting is adequate, although a couple of lines are delivered with a marked insincerity, partly to blame on the scripting by Mann, who adapted the television show by Anthony Yerkovich. Several of the other agents are far more convincing and realistic as rugged criminals. Officer Gina Calabrese (Elizabeth Rodriguez) is easily one of the best of the supporting characters, also given the most exhilarating line in the film (“So tell me sport, do you believe that?”). The villains seem occasionally exaggerated, but are successful at being nasty, which makes their demises just that much better. Oddly enough, there are no comic relief characters, and only one or two conversations in the entire production that are intentionally humorous.

Since the plot is generic, never once do viewers doubt the triumph of the protagonists. “Miami Vice’s” successes chiefly reside in the level of bravado delivered in those triumphs. Basic, sensible dialogue adds to the simplicity, while familiar nods to the original television series transpire abundantly (including duplicated quotes from various episodes). As for the cinematography, most of the night scenes are grainy, to increase the grittiness of the situations and characters, while a shaky handheld approach riddled with close-up shots grows overbearing at times. Fortunately, the soundtrack is diversified, though several of Mann’s choices fail to appropriately complement the scenes. As far as buddy-cop actioners go, “Miami Vice” can’t keep up with the likes of “Collateral” and “Heat,” even if the razor-sharp gunfights – no matter how sparse – are worthy of sitting through the rest of the commonness to see.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10