No Pink Flamingos in this spotty cop drama
Michael Mann's 21st-century cinematic update of his seminal TV series bears little resemblance to its pastel-drenched predecessor. The signature duo of Crockett and Tubbs is back, with Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx replacing '80s stars Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, and there are plenty of fast cars, beautiful women and bling. But that's where the similarities end. The film's tone is darker, edgier, and without much of the humor that helped make the TV series so much fun.
The plot of Miami Vice revolves around Crockett and Tubbs going deep undercover to infiltrate the violent world of narcotics trafficking. What begins as a small, local operation soon evolves into a multinational effort to track down one of the world's most prolific kingpins.
It's clear from the outset that Mann looked to create something very different from the original series. His primary aim is to capture the angst of cops working undercover and living on the edge. Aside from the stellar shootout finale (which harkens back to Mann's work in films like Heat), the story is short on action and long on existential torment.
The plot is at times extraordinarily confusing; it's difficult to track who's working for whom and who's selling what. On top of that, Gong Li's dialogue is almost completely incomprehensible. Farrell isn't all that easy to understand either, which makes the romantic subplot involving the two particularly frustrating.
What's on the disc:
The DVD is billed as the "Unrated Director's Edition." At the beginning of his commentary, Mann emphasizes that the theatrical version was the "director's cut" and that he merely retooled the film slightly, altering the opening, adding a few scenes and using different takes.
Interestingly, the Director's Commentary consists mainly of Mann explaining the story, which makes the film a lot easier to understand and much more enjoyable. Mann clearly knows his stuff; he talks in great detail about the machinations of the modern drug trade and the tactics used to combat it. It's just too bad he wasn't able to articulate it better on celluloid. For those who have already seen the movie in theaters, I recommend skipping the regular version entirely and watching the one with commentary.
Miami Vice Undercover – An interview with real-life former undercover agents who served as consultants on the film.
Miami & Beyond: Shooting on Location – An exploration of some of the exotic Latin American locales featured in Miami Vice.
Visualizing Miami Vice – A look at storyboarding and other aspects of the film's production design.
Behind the Scenes Featurettes – Three short documentaries chronicling the cast's guns training, action scene blocking and speedboat racing.