I saw Michael Mann’s updated Miami Vice the first day it screened in Hong Kong. I think Mann did the right thing in choosing to create a totally new movie unconstrained by the TV series instead of simply updating it for a new century. In look and feel, this Miami Vice can be seen as a companion piece to Collateral. Both use the same digital photography techniques to produce a washed out, and at times grainy, picture. The undercover scenes exhibit an almost home-made documentary / behind-the-scenes feel thanks to the grainy digital photography. Both movies focus on the ruthless nature of both professional criminals and cops.
The plot is nothing special. Miami vice squad detectives Sonny Crockett (Colin Farell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) infiltrate a drug racket but Crockett falls in love with the drug lord’s mistress Isabella (Gong Li). Can he bust the drug lord without risking Isabella’s life?
Plot wise, Miami Vice delivers hardly any surprises, especially for fans of the TV series. The success of the film thus relies on the execution – and here Mann delivers. The cinematography is achingly beautiful and the gunfights provide visceral thrills unparalleled when compared to any action movie released this year.
In terms of acting, Foxx has little to do, Farrell turned out to be less awful than I expected, and Gong Li steals the show. I must say Gong Li looks fab and seems to have lost plenty of weight for the movie. Wardrobe, as in all of Mann’s movies, is exceedingly stylish.
Overall, not quite the ace I hoped for, but not a dud either.