July 29, 2006
Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx take over the roles of Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. Unfortunately, they forgot to bring with them any semblance of personalities. Farrell was sadly miscast in this role, and Foxx is aching to break out the two-dimensional strictures of his character. There is little for them to do except assume their poses and push the plot along. While this is never going to be mentioned in the same breath as the masterpiece Heat, Miami Vice is manages to entertain, but offers little more than a very good TV episode.
The plot is hardly original—the usual blah blah about drug deals "going down" and undercover agents being discovered and taken out—and in many instances the use of slang and code make much of the plot details unintelligible. Add the fact that many of the actors either have, or affect, thick accents, half the time I was going "Heh? Wha? What did he say? Speak up or speak English!" Now, I am the last person to poke fun at someone whose first language is not English. (After all, my first language is fifteenth-century German!) But could you at least enunciate so we could all follow along?
Ach! It didn't matter. You could still glean the lineaments of the plot—pure '80s TV cop drama. For Mann, the real crimes in his stories are the betrayal of personal loyalties and the exploitation of human relationships—not the heist or the drug deal per se. These are what drive the drama and keep you interested, even though subtitles would have been a nice touch.
Again, Farrell seemed ill at ease as Sonny. He is not a leading man: He is a character actor. Foxx is a rare bird—a comic turned serious actor who never impresses you as having to strain to repress his manic or comic energy (think Robin Williams). He is perfectly at ease in the skin of any character he assumes, and unselfconscious. He was fine here, but again, there was not much for him to do but follow the director to the climax. I wish Mann had thought through Crockett and Tubbs' relationship and given it some life, perhaps even some backstory. Nothing. They simply vow their loyalty to each other and maintain straight faces. Fine—but perhaps it would have been another opportunity for drama to strain that loyalty, perhaps con the audience into thinking it had been broken even. Nothing.
Yet, I was never bored. And that's because Mann knows how to tell a crime story—at his own pace and hitting the notes he wants to hit. So this is a lukewarm approval. Beware that there was brief nudity and some cursing. Not in the movie, but on the subway ride to the theater.
Next week, my Lutherans, I will make good on my promise to review Pirates II or Scoop. I have a feeling my miserable ex-assistant will review World Trade Center for that magazine he works for (or rather its blog). Seeing as he was living in Manhattan on that terrible day, I will probably let him have his say and recuse myself from a review of the same picture.
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