Gone are the leisure suits, white shoes,
hip talk and sanitized shootouts between
the bad guys and two cop buddies. Add
the city of Miami itself to the list of
discarded trademarks from the original
Vice the movie is fresh and
surprisingly original in its
presentation. Visually, this powerful
film blows you away with its edgy,
inventive camera work and close up
shots, mined with realistic sound
effects that pull you in so tight the
tension is almost tangible.
Director Michael Mann succeeds in making
you think you just dodged a bullet and
what you’re seeing is real -- he knows
Dion Beebe, director of photography,
deserves an Academy Award for his
brilliant work in Miami Vice.
He threw away the cookbook for filming
action sequences and instead approached
each scene with the reverence of an
artist determined to move the viewer
emotionally, and it works. Beebe
intertwines dark, grainy scenes that
evoke the sensation of impending danger,
reminiscent of the film Traffic
with scenes of crisp, bright, exotic
landscapes and sweeping skies that
provide a welcome respite from the seamy
side of busting drug traffickers.
Some of the shots are so breathtaking
they make you feel like you’re on a
National Geographic field trip or
an Arizona Highways photo tour
until some guy gets shot through the
chest with a slug the size of a golf
The violence is a reminder of what the
film is really about. Opening with a
drug bust gone bad due to a “leak”
within the organization, Miami
undercover police detectives Crockett
(Colin Farrell) and Tubbs (Jamie Foxx)
volunteer to go even deeper undercover
in order to locate the origin of that
Their new identities send them to South
America, where roles are reversed.
They’re the outsiders, the suspects in a
world of mutual distrust and murderous
drug traffickers. In short, it’s a
Isabella (Gong Li) plays the
Chinese-Cuban wife of a drug smuggler
and Crockett’s love interest. She plays
her role smartly as a veteran underworld
criminal, both cunning and risk taking.
When Crockett first meets Isabella he’s
smitten and begins a forbidden
relationship with her that places them
both in danger. Intimate scenes that
follow are so hot members of the rating
board had to be squirming in their
What transports Miami Vice
from coach to first class in the
police-drama genre is the solid acting
on the part of Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx
and the supporting cast.
Farrell avoids the pitfalls of
portraying Crockett as cocky and overly
polished, as was his predecessor.
Instead, he’s more like a real cop. He’s
a team player. He doesn’t scream at his
superiors or try to be a one-man army.
Likewise, Foxx pulls his weight without
appearing to upstage his partner. Yet,
both characters are too good to be true.
James Bond would be jealous of their
vast skills that include the ability to
pilot virtually any form of
transportation and evade detection by
well-informed drug lords. Their nemesis
in the film says it best: “These guys
are too perfect”.
Vice is the kind of film for
which big movie houses were designed.
It’s a sensory experience that requires
a large screen and a dark room. Don’t
wait to see it on DVD. If you do, you’ll
miss out on much of what this film has
General Audiences: B
Remake of the original Miami
Vice television version about two
undercover detectives. Drug-busting
theme delivered with cinematic
sophistication that sets a new standard
for this genre. Lots of action,
beautiful scenery and some nudity. A guy
Family Audiences: Not appropriate.
Antithesis of family film fare. Rated R
for strong violence, language and some