Michael Mann’s most underrated film is a forgotten masterpiece that was unjustly overlooked at the time of it’s theatrical release. Fusing the general storyline of two seminal episodes from the 1984 T.V. series, Mann’s script is a densely plotted narc-o tale about two Miami detectives working to bring down warring factions of Colombian drug dealers and white supremacists gun runners. Agent Sonny Crockett; Colin Farrell in a role that made Don Johnson a household name, goes undercover and infiltrates the Latino cartel while falling in love with his mark inside the organization. Jamie Foxx is ideally cast as Ricardo Tubbs, it’s unfortunate that the film doesn’t alot him the same amount of screen time as his counterpart.
The film starts with no exposition, and it can be quite jarring to anyone not familiar with Mann’s ‘Style’ or the source material. The filmmakers dive right in and don’t pause to let you know the story is taking a turn. They expect you to keep up and anyone lost in the shuffle is hopelessly doomed from there forth, because the script zigs and zags in some many directions you might need a chart to keep track of who is doing what. In an era in which most films have as little plot as necessary, this film has enough for two films.
Maybe that should have been the case here. Even at it’s current length of 140 minutes it has the feel of a movie that was shaved down from a much longer cut. The Digital cinematography by veteran Dion Beebe is exactly the right choice to capture the lightening split sky of Miami nights and the humid days in the ghettos of Columbia. The collaboration between director Mann and Beebe that began as an experiment on ‘Collateral’ is more fine tuned here, the visceral weight of the film adds a level of heighten realism to an already dark story.
‘Miami Vice‘ is a captivating film that belongs mention in the same breath as other Mann classics, ‘Heat‘ and ‘Public Enemies‘.
*This review is based on the theatrical cut on DVD. Not the slightly extended Director’s Cut. I think this is an instance in which the original version is a better cut and I encourage everybody to seek out the hard to find Original Cut, it may change your opinion on the film.
Director: Michael Mann
Stars: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx
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