Miami Vice: Director Michael Manns’ Movie a Touch Darker than Original Show

Once upon a time, Miami was a sensuous paradise, full of cool cars, fast women, stylish pastels and an apparent cocaine problem. Until Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs, clad in silk jackets and sockless loafers, decided to stop that cocaine problem with a little rock and roll and a whole lot of attitude.

Things have obviously changed in Miami, as the vice squad has lost the pastels and gotten a makeover that makes them almost chokingly cool. Such is the look and feel of Michael Mann’s new flick Miami Vice, based on his popular ’80s television series. Despite the darker transformation of Crockett and Tubbs, however, the film is still able to stand on its own two feet, even though most of the playful schlock of the original is gone.

The film follows Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) as they go undercover for the FBI in hopes of busting a drug ring. From their vantage point, one can see the makings of an episode-or a season-of the television show. But it’s minimalist, stripped-down.

Now the cocaine trafficking is global, and the thugs are so savvy and technology-driven that they can bust almost everyone who enters their world. The problem for Crockett and Tubbs is that once they find their way in, they’re still not exactly sure which way is up.

Along the way to a conclusion that leaves a lot of threads still untied, both characters are met with love interests (perhaps ‘lust interests’ is a better phrase), and find themselves with a bunch of confrontational hurdles to leap. Interestingly, there is not a lot of violence in “Vice,” though that doesn’t stop it from having plenty of action.

While such a blockbuster doesn’t beg for stellar performances, the acting in “Vice” is solid. Farrell and Foxx both deliver performances that, while they waver at times, carry the films ideal of serious minimalism. The supporting cast is equally reliable, though one of the main antagonists in the film, ArcÃ?¡ngel de JesÃ?¤s Montoya (Luis Tosar), isn’t really allowed to shine because he seems so distant from the action.

While the ’80s show may have been friendly, this film shoves the idea of “buddy cop” out the window. Not that there are problems between our heroes, but “Vice” takes sends the “buddy” part packing, and for my money, that’s alright. After all, I’ve seen both of the “Bad Boys” movies, and am not particularly interested in watching a third installment.

While the film loves throwing around jargon, quick exchanges, distant gunshots, and little that reminds the viewer that this was once a show equated to “MTV Cops”, it still manages to be appealing. And despite more than a few plot points that don’t seem to get tied up at the end, “Miami Vice” finds Mann still successfully exploring the universe he created, even if that universe has lost some of its schlock since last we saw it.

“Miami Vice”-3.5 out of 5 stars

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