Miami Vice

Miami Vice

2006, R, 132 min. Directed by Michael Mann. Starring Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Gong Li, Naomie Harris, Ciarán Hinds.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 28, 2006

Very nearly as electrifying as one of South Beach's ubiquitous pastel-peach beachfront cabanas or, alternately, an iridescently deceased jellyfish stranded at low tide and awash in sand fleas, Mann's edgy (read: underlit) take on the vacuous Eighties television cop-opera takes perhaps one too many cues from its cathode predecessor. For one thing, it's all style and precious little substance, drowning in a chromium murk (courtesy of Collateral's director of photography Dion Beebe), which manages to make this most garish of Floridian playscapes into a dreary, overcast hellscape, alternately queasy and threatening. For another, Farrell and Foxx, as libidinous detective Sonny Crockett and his marginally more grounded partner-detective Ricardo Tubbs, have all the mumbly chemistry of a late Mickey Spillane hangover. There's style to burn, but it's not the kind you'd want to have on your walls, unless crimson back-spatter is the "new black." The script, from Mann, has the formerly five-o'clock-shadowed duo chasing down a rogue drug cartel and Sonny falling for sexy Asian money launderer/moll Li, but the real emphasis here is on globe-hopping. The film jets (and "go-fast" boats) from stateside to Cuba to Colombia to elsewhere with the only noticeable result being that you may well want to book next year's summer holiday in old Havana – the place, in Mann's universe, anyway, has lost little of the sleazy charm on display in 1964's slice of Soviet agitprop Yo Soy Cuba, and I hear tell the cigars are to die for. There's plenty of death in Miami Vice as well, predictably so, with double-crosses galore and a token appearance by the Russian mob and the Aryan Brotherhood, two criminal enterprises not known for their sartorial splashiness. Even former style avatars Crockett and Tubbs appear to be dressing down these days, trading in their goofy Eighties Italianate pastels for more somber hues worn with the deadly air of men on their way to a funeral, preferably their own. Miami Vice's one saving grace, and it's a slim one indeed, comes from Mann's tried-and-true, ultra-choreographed ballistics ballets, including one deafening, third-act rain of cordite and lead that threatens to make you leave the theatre limping. And that's the good news. Perhaps vice isn't what it used to be, or maybe Crockett and Tubbs just aren't all that interesting when removed from their appropriate time slot, but this may well be the dreariest and most monochromatic time you'll have at the movies all summer.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Michael Mann Films
Chris Hemsworth stars in Michael Mann's cyber thriller.

Louis Black, Jan. 16, 2015

Public Enemies
Michael Mann's film is a human-scale biopic of the gangster folk hero John Dillinger.

Kimberley Jones, July 3, 2009

More by Marc Savlov
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
The Prince is dead, long live the Prince

Aug. 7, 2022

Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone
Texas-made luchadores-meets-wire fu playful adventure

April 29, 2022


Miami Vice, Michael Mann, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Gong Li, Naomie Harris, Ciarán Hinds

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle