a short take by Tony McRae

Director Michael Mann created and produced the hit TV series “ Miami Vice” in 1984.  Twenty-two years later he brings Detectives Crockett and Tubbs to the big screen, this time with two mega stars, Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, in the roles to the two hottest detectives in a Miami that reeks of sin, sex and gunfire.   

Unlike the TV show, there are no pastels here.  Crockett and Tubbs go undercover, and the dark blues and shades of black and gray keep reminding us of the danger they constantly face.  

The audience is taken for a ride into the underworld.  The transportation?  Sleek cars, cool jet planes, and high speed boats that can transport cocaine from any Caribbean island to the U.S. in the time it takes you to smoke a Cuban cigar.   

The story of double and triple crosses is convoluted and, frankly, wacky—you have to take notes to figure out just what’s going on, but it doesn’t really matter.  We know who the good guys and the bad guys are, and that’s all you really need.  What director Mann does is create a kind of neon blue Hades in which everybody seems to be having a great time but in fact they’re all trying too hard.  No one seems to enjoy himself, least of all Crockett and Tubbs.  

Two of the picture’s strongest assets are the atmosphere and the pacing of the action.  Mann knows when to end a scene, unlike so many of this summer’s blockbusters that go on and on.  Not that the movie isn’t long.  It lasts 130 minutes, but the editing makes it go by faster.   

The other plus of “ Miami Vice” are the scenes between Crockett and Isabella, the drug lord’s businesswoman.  Chinese actress Gong Li (Memoirs of a Geisha) can show hardness, allure, and particularly vulnerability.  She turns what can be a predictable romance into a gripping subplot that threatens to take center stage.  I must confess that when Gong Li is on screen the movie picks up.  She has that rare ability to have you care for a bad woman without it being maudlin.  

Colin Farrell still hasn’t proved himself, at least to this viewer.  He’s had several big roles but he seems to play everyone with the same grimace.  Jamie Foxx is okay here, but Detective Tubbs is second banana.  Give this actor a good role and he’s off and running.  

Make no mistake, this is a summer movie.  I put it into the category of “guilty pleasure.”  I shouldn’t really like it but I do.  

This movie is rated R for strong violence, language and some sexual content.