This was a decent action film but missed much of the vibe that made the original TV series great and in the end was just another poor remake.
Two detectives in the Miami vice squad go undercover as drug smugglers to bring down a highly profitable international crime ring.
When you hear Michael Mann, director of “Collateral” will be directing a remake of the classic 80’s television action series, initial thought would be without question a sure fire hit. Much to my surprise and disappointment it turned out to be a rather common action film, that was just extremely well shot.
There was no real resemblance to what I remember from the original show and it was surprising to me the film was even titled “Miami Vice”. Whether or not this was a ploy to get people in seats is up for debate but this film clearly hindered from the title rather than prospered from it.
If this was just another action-crime story with Foxx and Farrell in the leads the public reaction would have been much better in my opinion. With the title it had came an expectation to resemble the source material and for the most part it did not. While Foxx and Farrell gave strong, enjoyable performances, there was virtually no chemistry between them. To their credit the script did not really allow for any kind of real bond between the two to make them come across and close friends and partners, and in the end felt nothing like the Crockett and Tubbs I grew up watching on television.
The story-line was on the generic side, however it was beautifully shot and if there would have been some stronger dialogue to build the characters they would not have simply felt like Foxx and Farrell as vice cops in Miami. The entire love dynamic between Crockett and Isabella played by Li Gong was clearly a forced plot device and a simplistic set-up for an impact-less subplot.
Despite the common-feel of the plot there were still some tense moments and strong performances to carry the run-time. Casting was very good in this one all around, even with Foxx and Farrell they were just not well written to resemble the two familiar main characters the film was selling with its title. The cinematography was fantastic and there is no denying Michael Mann and Dion Beebe created a spectacular looking film. They were able to use the Miami skyline in many scenes with perfect lighting to make it a subtle character of the film in its own and added a great element.
There were many visually stunning shots, from the racing boats to the smuggling planes flying through the cotton-ball clouds. The hand-held camera technique was amazing and pulls you right into the conversations and during the action-sequences you can feel the velocity of the shootouts like you are crouching behind the characters yourself. With all these positive aspects that went into making one of the better looking action films I have seen, it felt like its potential was not met with a overly pedestrian script and a title it did not need.
In the end “Miami Vice” was a very entertaining action film with an artistic film style, while at the same time a horrible remake of the popular television show it was based on. The performances were good for a simple action film but there seemed to be a lack of energy in all the characters. If you want a enjoyable cop themed action film then this one will pass the test. If you loved the old show and want to see it based on that alone, pass because it did not seem to pull much inspiration from the source material.