The trailer to Miami Vice was sharp, intense and very stylish. It reminded me of the original show only with a more modern setting. Sadly the movie itself only manages to be stylish. So stylish in fact, that it is completely lacking in credibility and plot.
It's a really sad fall for Michael Mann, the director who gave us such classics as Last of the Mohicans, Heat and The Insider. It isn't that Miami Vice is badly shot, produced or scripted. The problem lies in that we've been down this very same road before with undercover cop movies.
The opening 15 minutes are decent. No opening credits, no long-winded setup of the characters. We see Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) thrust straight into the seedy underworld of the Miami club scene. They clearly have a well-established team, so no need for any long and boring introductions.
Then it all goes, well, boring. Sent undercover to work for a top drug and gun baron, Crockett and Tubbs spend the next 90 minutes reaming off stylish, but pointless, dialogue and acting out numerous plot cliches. From early on it's clear that Tubbs' wife/girlfriend is going to be captured by the bad guys and held hostage. It's also obvious that Crockett is going to fall in love with the big bosses woman and thus risk getting 'in too deep'. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, new here. Undercover cops, get in too deep but bring down the bad guys just in time to save the day. And when they aren't in too deep, they are driving a combination of fast cars, fast boats and fast planes... or having fast meaningless sex.
Add to this the betrayal by the nasty right hand man of the drug baron and I've pretty much told you the entire story in 2 paragraphs. It took Michael Mann over 2 frigging hours.
None of the characters have any chemisty together. When Mann wants to illustrate that Crockett is falling in love with his recent conquest he just gives us another sex scene or an erotic dance in a nightclub. FFS, are we 14 years old?! Chemistry and love are different things to lust and longing. Sadly, the lack of chemistry is even more apparent between the two leads.
The only saving grace, is the final gun-fight. Shot in wartime documentary style, it is very gritty and reminiscent of some of the best action moments from Heat. However, after 2 hours of watching snails crawl up walls it wouldn't have taken much to make me feel entertained, so it's possible that the gun-fight isn't that great either ;-)
In summary, Miami Vice is a truly woeful movie. The acting is fine without ever being amazing and the direction is ok, but it almost feels like Mann knows his story truly blows and so he tries to cover it up with beautiful locations, fast cars, lots of sex and some stylish music. That might wash with some teenagers, but not with me. The only thing that saves this movie from being the worst I've seen all year, is the final gun-fight and the fact that I've already awarded that title to the even more dreadful Slither!