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MIAMI VICE
U.S. Release Date: July 28, 2006
Distributor: Universal
Director: Michael Mann
Writer: Michael Mann
Producer: Michael Mann, Pieter Jan Brugge
Cast: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Gong Li, Naomie Harris
Running Time: 2 hours and 26 minutes
MPAA Rating: R (strong violence, language and some sexual content)

Crockett and Tubbs Go Slumming
by Scott Holleran

Michael Mann's Miami Vice is a stylized take on his polished television show and it is a lifeless dud. Whatever the 1980s cop drama had to offer is lost in an incomprehensible mess.

Action, fast cars, boats and planes—Miami Vice has them all and still doesn't spark, let alone smoke. From the get-go, TV's celebrated Crockett and Tubbs are as dull as a Monday in Mayberry. The pair, in roles originated by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas and played as glum here by Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, are as exciting as watching Aunt Bea pack her jarred pickles for a blue ribbon at the county fair.

At least Aunt Bea wanted to win. These two—looking like Florida's skuzziest drug dealer and a black Fu Manchu—spend time lollygagging and fishing only to throw the catch back while the big fish gets away.

Those acclimated to heavy rotations of MTV may pick up plot droppings—the TV show also used music with its pretty pictures—but this dark, grainy picture needs subtitles to be understood. That's not just because actress Gong Li (Memoirs of a Geisha) struggles with the English language in each scene, though that is a problem. As an Asian stereotype, she juts her head like a 16-year old gangbanger flashing signs at the mall. The acting is bad. The dialog is worse. Everyone talks in thugspeak.

Grimy looks, muddy plot and lousy lines abound. Crockett (Farrell) and Tubbs (Foxx) break the law, bed the beauties, pilot planes and command Miami like a two-man Coast Guard, yet they whine while they work.

Still, they chase the usual south Florida drug thugs, in beautifully photographed aerial shots, leading lazily to Miami Vice's theme that cops and robbers are indistinguishable. One of the villains is bad to the bone, another is a heavily bearded honcho—a sort of Osama bin Carlos—and the exotic Oriental she-devil (Li) falls for Crockett.

Foxx, who is flat, and Farrell, who looks like he's been fried in a grease pan, have zero charisma; Farrell fares better, but the gritty overproduction makes him seem jokey. Rather than roll in South Beach's satin, Art Deco hotel sheets, Crockett and his drug babe head to where sleazy tourists hunt half-starved children for sex: communist Cuba.

As the deal goes down, white racists enter into the picture (natch), and, between scenes of softcore pornography, something happens, someone is killed, and the story is easy to call far in advance. The action, coming late in the game, lands with a thud. Mr. Mann, whose show was a dose of well-dressed cops and robbers set to catchy pop rock, adopts a pseudo-serious tone without colors and without plot, making this Miami Vice one tired episode.


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