With an eighties-inspired soundtrack, sleek sports cars and shiny gray suits worn over crewneck t-shirts, Mann, who was executive producer of the original television series, has left nothing out.
“Miami Vice,” has undoubtedly been one of this season’s most highly anticipated blockbusters, but fans of that genre may be disappointed in how little the film offers in the way of stylized car chases and choreographed fight scenes.
Like Mann’s last big hit, “Collateral,” which earned Jamie Foxx an Oscar nomination, “Miami Vice,” is shot in gritty handheld-style real time.
The opening scene places us right in the action as James “Sonny” Crockett (Colin Farrell), and Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs (Foxx) staking out a prostitution racket in a busy Miami nightclub. They are accompanied by their faithful and strangely mute stakeout team, which includes a criminally underused Justin Theroux.
The action mounts steadily as Sonny and Rico are recruited to pose as high-scale drug traffickers in order break an elaborate “transnational” drug ring.
Alternately flying and speed-boating between Flordia, Port-au-Prince and Columbia, Farrell squeezes in an implausible relationship with his enemy’s business manager but just cannot seem to find the time to shave. Things start to get complicated when the pair realize they are falling for each other, but the depth of their feelings is less than convincing.
More believable is the chemistry between Farrell and Foxx, whose mostly unspoken respect for each other is conveyed subtly with sparing dialogue. A look or a nod of the head communicates 1,000 words.
Farrell, with his big brown eyes and irresistible smile, has the charisma to pull the easy flirtatiousness and rock-solid confidence of Don Johnson’s Sonny, but for the most part it seems like he’s trying too hard, speaking too deeply and gruffly and staring too intensely.
Foxx, for his part seems more comfortable in his role as Rico, the fast talking ex-New York detective, and the chemistry between him and his hardheaded swat-team partner and girlfriend strikes a perfect balance between tenderness and professionalism.
The gritty camera style works during action scenes and when capturing the urban landscapes in Miami and Port-au-Prince but it does not do full justice to some of the impressive, wide-sweeping shots of Columbian waterfalls and the interior of the lavish houses that the drug lords have brought with their ill-gotten gains.
Love it or hate it, the film’s somewhat convenient ending is wide open, so be prepared for a sequel.