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No flamingos
by Asa Butcher
2006-09-08 10:24:33
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Miami Vice
Michael Mann
Universal Pictures, 2006

There was no room for flamingos, Don Johnson or even opening credits in Michael Mann's Miami Vice, the latest television series to inspire a film adaptation. For once, I did not care about Hollywood's laziness because I have never watched a full episode of the original 1980's show, so I didn't care that reviews complained about the lack of references to the original show.

It was refreshing that there were no comparisons to be made, except, wait, it is set in Miami and has two cops running around, which is reminiscent of both Bad Boys films. Oh well, at least Colin Farrell's peculiar bleached hair, moustache and beard held no comparison to anything I have ever seen on screen…hmm, Sean Penn's haircut in Carlito's Way still holds the number one spot, so forget that then.

Anyway, Miami Vice is one cool film. The clothes, the cars, the boats, the women, the guns, the dialogue and I bet if there had been flamingos they would have been sporting Gucci sunglasses because this is one cool film. The film is so cool that director Michael Mann just couldn't bring himself to use a tripod for more than three shots, so we are treated to a Steadicam experience of intense proportions.

Mann must have decided that it was time for the audience to taste the realities of undercover police work because we were in among all the action. During the gun battles the camera was over the shoulder of those involved, when cars were being driven you look out the front window and during the two sex scenes I was looking around for some Kleenex. The feeling of being immersed in a film was a little disconcerting at times, but it held your attention and even brought to mind the feeling of playing the computer game Doom.

The plot takes Detectives James 'Sonny' Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo 'Rico' Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) undercover as drug smugglers, after the FBI asks for help following a breach in their security. They quickly, yet believably, work their magic and soon learn about Arcángel de Jesús Montoya's (Luis Tosar) global narco-trafficking network and Sonny is soon attracted to his Cuban-Chinese right-hand woman Isabella (Li Gong). Identities blur, the situation intensifies and we are left with a number of excellent set pieces and an obligatory cool ending.

In the wake of Mann's Collateral and Heat, we have come to expect some intense close encounter battles; can anybody forget the street machine gun fight in Heat? Mann lives up to his reputation and saves the best till last, even using a bullet sound effect that I have never heard before, yet it sounded incredibly authentic, even though I have never heard a real bullet - if that makes any sense!

I don't know how well the two leads stepped into the sandals of Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, but Jamie Foxx may want to ensure that he has a more central role in Miami Vice 2. Foxx may have been excellent in the role, but he was over-shadowed by Mr Bleached Moustache, a.k.a. Colin Farrell. He was the star of the film and this fact is effectively sealed when he takes Isabella to Cuba for mojitos in a MTI 39' foot powerboat, which was one of my favourite parts of the movie.

The question I have to ask myself is: Did the movie make me want to watch the original series? The answer is no, but I would watch Miami Vice 2. Until then, well, I will just have to count the days to the release of the next TV series to undergo Hollywood treatment: Magnum P.I.

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