Friday, August 04, 2006

"Miami Vice"

Miami Vice (2006)

Director: Michael Mann

Review by John Dodd

A Quick checklist for Vice fans:

Gina - Present and actually doing something

Trudy - A major character

Switek - In the background and played by a bodybuilder

Zito - In the background until the final shootout

Castillo - Present but not much of a character

Calderone - None of the Calderone family make the movie

Miami Vice debuted on television in September of 1984 when I was eleven years-old. It left a lifelong impression. At that age, I did not know what GQ was and had never heard the term “noir,” but I knew that this show was unlike Hunter and the other cop shows I watched. The plots were darker. Often the happy endings were tinged with bitterness. Then there was the style. The show filmed extensively outdoors, usually at night. Action scenes were cut like a movie, a change from the usual claustrophobic set pieces. The combination of (relatively) downbeat stories and flashy, quick cutting style made Miami Vice the cop show for the MTV generation.

The film Miami Vice is an unusual animal. Resembling the show only in its two leads and in its ending, the film shows that times have changed. The clothes are neutral. The music is rougher. Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) have lost the comedic banter that would lighten the show’s darker moods. The editing no longer punches like snap, crackle, and pop. Instead, like with Collateral, Mann shifts the mood to reflection with shots held a long time for a crime story.

The film jumps into the plot in the first scene. While on a stakeout, Crockett gets a call from an informer on the run. The informer had been loaned out to federal agents working a weapons sting on a group of white supremists. The deal has gone bad. The agents are dead. The informer’s family has been murdered. Crockett and Tubbs agree to take over the investigation, jumping ahead of the supremists to their weapons supplier, a drug/weapon smuggler named Jose Yero (John Ortiz), known for his murderous personality. Yero leads the undercover pair to Jesus Montoya (Luis Tosar), a drug lord, and Montoya’s’s business partner and girl Isabella (Gong Li). Crockett begins playing her but finds himself crossing the line.

The plot bares a few tangent similarities to the season one episode “Smuggler’s Blues.” Like in that episode, most of the show is set outside of Miami (Uruguay standing in for Columbia) and Trudy is kidnaped and attached to a bomb, but the moods are different. The film Miami Vice is more of a downer, which is a compliment. Not one old cast member makes a cameo. The film makes only one injoke to the original series (a cover of “In the Air Tonight”), but that is as light as the film gets. This is a somber affair. Do not expect Elvis the alligator to show up.

As portrayed here, Crockett and Tubbs are characters who Jean-Paul Sartre could embrace. These are men defined by their actions. Crockett’s father was either a musician or a trucker or both. Tubbs is seeing fellow vice cop Trudy (Naomie Harris). Both are furious with the Federal agents that got their snitch killed. The most important person in each’s life is his partner. That is all for characterization. The rest is how the two act. Comfortable making million dollar deals, experts at drug smuggling, and consciousless in killing those who deserve it, Crockett and Tubbs fit in just as well in the criminal world as the police one. Perhaps Mann is returning to his central theme of Heat: the gulf between cop and hood is not that wide. If their lives had gone differently, perhaps Crockett and Tubbs would have been the druglord’s seconds instead of the underhanded Yero.

In either world personal relationships are liabilities, except amongst the one person you can trust, trust to back you in front of your superior Castillo (Barry Shabaka Henley, no Edward James Olmos) and trust you to take out as many enemy combatants as yourself. Crockett and the girl are doomed but Tubbs will still be there.

The film Miami Vice will never capture the pop culture Zeitgeist the series did. The pacing is too slow for action fans. While those that remember the series may be startled by the different vibe. The film is not as good as the best of Miami Vice episodes (The Pilot, “No Exit,” and “Lombard,” to name three from season one), but it is a solid Michael Mann crime film, better than Collateral but not as good as Heat.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


InkTip has helped another writer get produced!

Our latest feature film made:
The feature film 'After Midnight,' written by Carol Mulholland and
directed by
Rob Walker, has completed production and is currently in post. Walker,
Commotion Pictures, connected with Mulholland through our network a few
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on 'After Midnight.' The film stars Marcus Dean Fuller (Guiding Light,

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Jerrol LeBaron