"Miami Vice" brings out Miami's deep scars

Aug. 2, 2006, midnight | By Nitin Sukumar | 17 years, 10 months ago

"Vice" just isn't the same

This year, Director Michael Mann took his 1984 "Miami Vice" and turned it into one of the most action-packed, unpredictable crime dramas to date. That doesn't make it spectacular. In reality, "Miami Vice" plainly doesn't make the cut, especially since Mann had created masterpieces like "Collateral" and "Heat" in previous years.

James "Sonny" Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) clearly aren't the same as before. When Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas were the two cops in the 1984, they joked around. They had a good time. In this modern version, however, the two agents are cold and deadly. They don't play games with their enemies; it's either give up or pain for those who stand in their way. In any case, Mann doesn't waste time in introducing the scene. Crockett, Tubbs and their crew of agents open the show at a night club, where they attempt to bring a prostitution ring leader into custody. At that point, Sonny gets a call from a longtime friend and undercover agent. Delirious, the man explains that the drug deal between a pro-Aryan group and Colombian drug dealers had gone bad. Soon after, the man commits suicide, prompting the dynamic duo to join in the investigation.

The two take undercover roles in a Colombian criminal mastermind's dealings in an attempt to end the whole ordeal. Crockett and Tubbs bring along their elite group of agents, including Tubbs' girlfriend Trudy Joplin (Naomi Harris), to a danger zone in South America. And here begins one of the main mysteries of the story. Why is the story called "Miami Vice?" "Definitely Not American Vice" would do the trick. Much of the action doesn't take place in Miami; instead, Cuba, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina steal the camera. The two cold cops soon meet the leader's henchmen José Yero (John Ortiz) and Isabella (Gong Li), and so the story unfolds.

The deadly accuracy of the Miami duo's guns might have been the only exciting part of the movie. Decapitated bodies, missing stomachs, and overly buff white-supremacists surely raised every viewer's heart rate. And yes, no vice is without sex and drugs. Crockett, who falls in love with Isabella, and Tubbs have intimate relationships with their respective girlfriends, and they aren't embarrassed to show it. The whole investigation is revolved around drug dealings. The sports cars, boats, and girls still remain from the TV version. But Miami is gone; at least the nicer side of it is. Dark shipyards, congested cities and uncivilized forests have replaced the sunny, palm tree beaches of the popular Florida city.

Farrell and Foxx were phenomenal in their respective roles. Expectations for Foxx were particularly high, considering the stunning job he performed when he teamed with Mann in "Collateral." Without a doubt, Mann and executive producer Anthony Yerkovich wanted to shake up the characters. But the change was too dramatic to satisfy the eager audiences. In the original show, the two detectives always had interesting conversations; rarely was there ever a moment of idle silence. In this remake, Crockett and Tubbs barely speak about anything besides their tasks at hand.

All in all, this thriller and cop drama was not Mann's best work. In all its dancing, sex and drugs, viewers get lost in the real plot and investigation of Crockett and Tubbs. The lack of normal conversation between the two creates an uneasy feeling throughout. But "Miami Vice" is overpowered with gunshots and bomb blasts that will simply have action movie fanatics quote from the fights "bang bang."

"Miami Vice" (146 minutes; area theaters) is rated R for strong violence, language, drug references, and some sexual content.

Nitin Sukumar. Nitin's middle name is Antonio Gates. More »

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