As a fundamental symbol for everything to remember (and forget!) about the 1980s, Miami Vice is a name very few of us will let go from our memories. Its iconic fashion, action and luxurious excess are embedded in our memory banks. Its sport jackets, electric colored t-shirts, shoes without socks and thick rimmed sunglasses have gone the way of the buffalo, but the undercover crime solving action of the hit television show of the past finally made it to the big screen, and your home Blu-ray player this decade.
Miami Vice follows the story of undercover cop duo Sonny Crockett (played by Collin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (played by Jamie Foxx) in Miami, Florida. The partners embark on a mission to investigate the murders of two federal agents, only to find out the suspects' power and business dealings are spread across the globe in a powerful drug trafficking ring.
The pair go deep into the world of illegal trafficking as transporters, and show us how innovative, eccentric and hazardous the drug trafficking world can be. From lining up a plane's radar signal to another plane, to ridiculously fast boats cleverly named “Go-fast” which can sneak by radar undetected, Sonny and Ricardo set out to prove that their transportation methods are legit for high-powered drug dealers.
Miami Vice is clad with expensive cars, fancy boats, and luxurious lifestyles. Of course those all wouldn't be significant without the presence of high speed chases, fantastic scenery, high action shootouts and passionate romance. These elements all debuted in the original television series, and were once again brought to the forefront of this new era remake. However, many of the similarities between the original series and the motion picture end there.
Director Michael Mann once again portrays his vision through the medium of the digital HD camera. A plethora of handheld shots are also used, giving it a similar feel to Mann's other digital hit, Collateral. This makes the action scenes more lifelike and the intimate scenes more tangible to the viewer. However, if you're looking for crisp, polished and flawless picture from your Blu-ray movie, keep moving. Video noise is abundant, night shots are raw and unfiltered, and colors have little to no enhancement. HD Digital shooting is unforgiving and accurate, and a great deal of the on-location and well designed scenes complement the digital shooting of Miami Vice. More so, the depth of field in this film is phenomenal, with scenic shots and even tight intimate scenes giving you solid focus from directly in front of the camera to the infinite backgrounds of the ocean's horizon.
Collin Farrell played his character very convincingly. Sonny Crockett had a look of natural determination and focus throughout the film, the look of a true professional respecting his role. Farrell delivers with success through both romantic and action scenes equally.
Jamie Foxx also does a fantastic job with his character, which I think was lacking in itself. Ricardo Tubbs' role of second fiddle to Sonny made him seem much less significant even though the two are equal and respectful partners. Both actors' cool, calm and collective attitudes combined with the unrelenting focus of undercover work make them both stand out as powerful characters that command your attention.
As for the film itself, it felt like Miami Vice had trouble establishing a significant pace. Many dialogue scenes lacked the energy to carry the film's momentum from action scene to action scene. Stagnant dialogue and awkward transitions between undercover work and everything else made immersion difficult. The film depicts the precision and speed of the underground world of drug trafficking, yet did very little to avoid a slow pace once the trafficking sequences were over. I found myself having a difficult time to truly immerse myself into Miami Vice, and even the romance scenes couldn't help. Many of the romantic connections made seemed unnatural, and were highly lacking in character development and chemistry establishment. All it took for Isabella (played by Li Gong) to fall in love so hard with Sonny that she cried after making love to him for the first time was a trip to Cuba for a Mojito and some dancing. Isabella is the financial manager and part time lover to the boss, and comes off as a strong and independent yet cold woman. Her transformation into a tearful heap of cuddling love after just meeting Sonny hours prior makes you dismiss the chemistry entirely.
The lead crime boss, Montoya (Luis Tosar) was seen very little in the movie, and only adds a mysterious element to the plot and not very much fear or other significant “bad guy” reactions. Additionally, his second in command, Jose Yero (John Ortiz) was not intimidating at all, and seemed to be more of a quirky-looking-yet-jaded business manager than a respected and demanding face of organized crime.