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"Miami Vice"

Directed by Michael Mann.
Written by Michael Mann.
Starring Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Gong Li and John Ortiz.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  7/27/06


"Miami Vice" is solid.

It's not perfect, although I guess it IS perfect in the respect that it seems to achieve what writer/director Michael Mann wants the film to do, which is to give us a slice of life for undercover cops, who happen to be named after the same two guys that were in a TV show a few years back.  Save for this mistake--the new Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Rico Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) seem to be different in almost every way--"Miami Vice" drops us right into a case and fades right as another one appears to be on the way.

In between, Mann gives us a sometimes brutal look at life undercover in Miami (and Cuba, and Paraguay, AND Uruguay) but one that oozes with the lovely visuals that make all of his films so strong.  The main plot involves the tracking of the drug trade of one Jose Yero (John Ortiz), who works for both a beautiful second-in-command named Isabella (Gong Li) and an Escobar-like mastermind named Jésus (Luis Tosar); Crockett and Tubbs, following the death of an FBI informant, go under to learn the tricks of Yero's trade as well as figure out if there might be a leak in the good-guy organization to learn how the FBI guy done got shot!

But from the start, you realize that the case is just window dressing for what made "Miami Vice" the TV show so good:  cool-looking cops, cool clothes, cool action, cool cars, cool speedboats, and ridiculously-hot people everywhere.  And, even though some people REALLY get it bad to start the film, everything is so beautiful that you find yourself sinking into your seat and just soaking in the lovely.  Be it throwaway shots of the cop duo standing around at night, or shots of their jet cruising through the sky, or boats skimming off the surface, or the crazy-hot Ferrari that the twosome drive around town, I found myself just giggling during many sequences that aren't about anything at all.  That's the whole point, right?

Even as Crockett gets involved with Isabella in the middle of the film, Mann handles this as just another section to goose up the visuals; rather than inserting a sappy romance piece that takes away from the film, Mann does it one better:  he makes the courtship brief, keeps the pacing up, he sticks mostly to visuals with no dialogue.  As Karl and I were talking afterwards (thanks again for the freebie, my friend!), we both admitted that this section could have dragged the movie down, but because he sticks to what got him there, the romantic interlude works.

I liked that Mann just drops us into the middle of the action; there are no extended introductions of who everyone is, you just realize that some guys are cops, some guys aren't, the film gives you the impression that it's just in motion, no time to explain what's happening, right through to the ending.  He gives us great players in bit parts, certainly none better than Ciarán Hinds ("Munich", most recently), and the digital cameras used both in this film and "Collateral" just make the gritty nature of the work taste that much better.  And, what would a Mann action film be without a great gun battle?  "Miami Vice" gives us one more that doesn't knock "Heat" off of its pedestal but entertains nonetheless.

Like I said, "Miami Vice" is a great time at the movies, especially if just like to sit back and watch people wear cool clothes while sipping their morning coffee.  To a cool soundtrack.  With a big machine gun on the table.  In their expensive all-white condo.  Yeah, it's like that.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09