Saturday 16 June 2018

Movie Review: Miami Vice (2006)

A big-screen adaptation of the 1980s television hit series, Miami Vice is slow, moody, overcomplicated and disjointed.

In Miami, undercover police detectives Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Rico Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) interrupt an investigation of human traffickers when their former informant Alonzo (John Hawkes) tangles with brutal white supremacist drugs and weapons distributors and two undercover FBI agents end up dead. With his security operation compromised, the FBI's John Fujima (Ciarán Hinds) recruits Sonny and Rico to infiltrate the Colombian drug cartels and uncover the Miami distribution network.

The cops create a high speed air and sea transportation business as their cover to sell services to the illegal narcotics industry. In Haiti they connect with middleman smuggler José Yero (John Ortiz) and his mysterious partner Isabella (Gong Li) and are soon transporting drugs into the US. Yero never fully trusts Cockett, who quickly instigates a steamy romance with Isabella, the go-between with reclusive drug cartel kingpin Montoya (Luis Tosar). When the Aryan Brotherhood goons kidnap Rico's girlfriend Trudy (Naomie Harris) to gain leverage, a violent showdown looms.

Directed and written by Michael Mann, Miami Vice is a pretentious mess. A kaleidoscope of vivid colours, silhouettes, cool threads, fast cars and pretty scenery cannot hide the total absence of chemistry between Sonny and Rico, who come across as strangers to each others rather than partners. Worse still is a plot that drowns in convulsions of its own makings and takes forever to gain traction, with no character depth on either side of the law.

Just when Mann appears to be gaining a handle on the material he loses all momentum with a distracting, laborious and unconvincing romance between Crockett and Isabella, who share even less chemistry than Crockett and Tubbs. The romance is so poorly conceived it's never even clear whether the lovers are playing each other or genuinely in love, and the lack of clarity is far from intentional.

And it all ends in a shootout that negates the endless two hours that went before it. Miami Vice sets up a complex police investigation supposedly to gain evidence to arrest and convict, but ends in a free-for-all bloodbath. While the climax is admittedly well executed, if it was going to be ok to shoot up the joint, then creating painstaking undercover work was a waste of everybody's time.

Miami Vice commits a cardinal sin: converting a fun and sleek concept into an outright bore.

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