‘Miami Vice’: Gritty, if not great

Thu, 08/03/2006 - 1:11pm
By: Michael Boylan

I was a little too young when “Miami Vice” was on television, so I missed the whole phenomena of fluorescent t-shirts beneath suits with rolled up sleeves. Michael Mann, who created the television show, went on to make some great movies like “Heat” and “Collateral,” and has now gone back to the idea that made him famous, giving it the full-blown Hollywood treatment.

The film starts with Detectives Crockett and Tubbs, played by Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx respectively, ditching one case for another. The case they pick up has been handed over by the Feds and involves a large drug running cartel out of Colombia and a group of white supremacists selling it in the states. Crockett and Tubbs go undercover, get in good with the drug dealers and try to find the bigger guy that is pulling all the strings.

Much like “Heat,” the film centers on characters rather than action sequences. While there are some great scenes, like a shootout by a trailer towards the end, Mann is more interested in how far a person can go undercover without creating real relationships or damaging others. That said, this isn’t a touchy-feely movie, it is just more grounded in reality. The violence and its aftermath look all too real, unlike other films where people are shot and fall to the background never to be seen again. The world that Crockett and Tubbs inhabit is dangerous and death is all too close to them a lot of the time.

Foxx does a respectable job as Tubbs but he is almost too quiet. While it’s great that he doesn’t “Will Smith” his way through the role, a little more life couldn’t have hurt. Farrell is excellent. Despite his Hollywood image and well known partying ways, he sinks into the role of Crockett and delivers some of his greatest work yet. He is an excellent leading man and gives his role many interesting layers.

If you were hoping for a “Bad Boys” type movie, “Miami Vice” isn’t it. it doesn’t have multitudes of explosions and there is little witty banter and catch-phrase dialogue. It is a solid film and quite like an R-rated “Law and Order.”


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