"MTV Cops": With those words, one of the best t.v. shows of the 80's was spawned. This was the concept Michael Mann was given and he turned it into something much more satisfying and wide-reaching than anticipated, giving us "Miami Vice". I dare you to find a young boy in the mid-80s who didn't own his own variation of the Crockett ensemble of pastel t-shirt, white linen pants with matching jacket, and something akin to Espadrilles -- shoulder holster very much NOT optional.
Well, fast forward nearly twenty years, and we have MTV no longer showing music videos, instead being solely focused on the copulation, drinking and self-loathing habits of 20-somethings, Don Johnson hell bent on wrecking his legacy as the coolest cop in the world, and his partner, off in oblivion after the obligatory singing career went nowhere.
So the question is, could "Miami Vice" be dragged into the 21st Century? I've seen the new movie, and my answer is: mostly. You'll never be able to re-create that sense of awe one had in watching Sonny and Rico speeding down a freshly-watered empty freeway at night in a black Ferrari Daytona Spyder (actually a Corvette with bepsoke body panels) as heavy mood music pulsated in the background -- lives on the line. And it's a good question to ask whether Colin Farrel could pull off Sonny's mix of joie-de-vivre and self-loathing.
First, here's what the movie got right: cars, boats, women, guns, music and ambience. I've never wanted to own a powerboat (or a "go-fast boat" as they're called in the movie) before I saw this flick. There's something unimaginably raw and powerful about those boats skimming over the bright blue S. Florida open water, or rumbling through the jet black waves in clandestine drug runs through the harbor. The car this time? A dark grey Ferrari 430 -- top down the whole time (that was one problem with the t.v. show when they went to the white Testarossa -- couldn't get good shots of Rico and Sonny driving) -- and damn does this car move. Mann loves cars, and he films this one beautifully, with some great after-market light effects, the paddle shifters, and some incredible exhaust notes.
The gun fights are infrequent but intense and fraught with what one presumes to be realism (some shots seem far away, some way too close) as their impact is truly frightening (especially the .50 caliber sniper rifles). Tension builds in the meets between the drug cartel and the undercover cops - who will shoot first?
The women are all beautiful, but Mann gives them substance, and some mystery, which is pleasing all the way around (not to say we don't get some good shower scenes, and mercifully, no shots of Farrel's ass).
The music alternates between heart-pounding and mood music - depending on the scene, but overall very effective.
What was wrong? Well, sometimes I really believed in the characters, and sometimes I didn't. I wouldn't say Jaime Foxx and Farrel were bad choices, but I'm not sure they were the best. Maybe it was the direction -- but they spent most of their time scowling and looking into the middle distance. The plot was not linear, which was fine (Mann basically drops us into the action without prologue or even opening credits!), but at times you had to wonder where the movie was going.
It brought its own style to the screen which was darker and certainly more violent, but wouldn't be viewed as groundbreaking as the t.v. series.
All in all, however, a solid thumbs up.
Okay Eno -- you can go see it now and say how much you hated it.
P.S. I saw the second Pirates of the Carribean movie -- truly awful and way too long. Sigh.