MIAMI VICE written and directed by Michael Mann, with Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx and Gong Li. A Universal release. 131 minutes. Opens Friday (July 28). For venues and times, see Movies, page 107. Rating: NNN
Who'd have thought that get ting Michael Mann to revisit his legendary 80s TV show would be a bad idea?
Whatever Miami Vice: 2K6 is, it's not a remake of the TV series. There are two cops named Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) who go deep undercover to bring down a drug lord, but Sonny, for example, doesn't live on a houseboat with a pet alligator, and no one wears unconstructed pastel jackets with the sleeves pushed up.
Mann has, of course, moved on, and while the new movie is called Miami Vice, it's another of the director's meditations on crime. It doesn't have Jan Hammer's jaunty theme, it doesn't have bikini babes, it doesn't have memorable cameos by rock stars.
It does have brooding. Fans of the series will recall Sonny's habit of falling for women from the dark side, then losing them at the end of the episode so we'd be left with pensive closeups of Don Johnson. In this picture, everybody gets to look melancholy. At times, it seems that about an hour of the film is devoted to brooding against spectacular natural backdrops.
It also and it may be heresy to say this doesn't look as good as the show. Mann and cinematographer Dion Beebe (Collateral, Memoirs Of A Geisha) have opted for digital video, as they did on Collateral, which makes sense for a footage fetishist like Mann, since tape is cheaper than film.
Perhaps the problem is that they've chosen to do without the malevolent glitter of the original's night scenes.
It ends with a big gunfight that does not come near the big shootout in Heat for intensity. (After that film, they should have retired big shootouts. Over, done: we have a winner.)
Since we're all taking the box office temperature these days, I suspect that this film will open fast and fall faster as people realize that the title doesn't represent truth in advertising.