2006. Directed by Michael Mann
Dripping with hyper visuals and brooding uneven symmetry, Michael Mann's masterpiece Miami Vice is a film that demands a revisit.
The story is a season finale, two hour long episode of the show. Crockett falls for the wrong girl, Trudy gets kidnapped, and the bad guy gets away!? Perhaps it was these familiar elements that upset so many, because viewers were expecting an homage to the classic, boundary pushing source material, but Mann had so much more to say with this film.
Miami Vice is the definition of cool. It's got so much style everywhere that you're almost lost in the neon labyrinth of Mann's Miami, a playground for criminals and the police that hunt them. From the clubs, to the boats, to the drug lairs, everything is brimming with kinetic force that threatens to explode at every turn. Dion Beebe's cinematography is so beautifully restrained at times and unhinged at others that you're often wondering if it's the same person bringing the film to life.
Colin Farrell and Jaime Foxx embody the Michael Mann male lead perfectly. Soft spoken and dangerous while simultaneously exhibiting pure swagger. They're relationship to each other and the badge is so easily communicated it doesn't require dialogue or even action, it's in the emotion.
The gorgeous Gong Li is opposite Farrell as his love interest and Mann's decision to use such a powerful actress of color in the lead was masterful. The supporting case cannot be denied, with John Hawkes, Ciaran Hinds, Naomi Harris, Justin Theroux, Luis Tosar, and John Ortiz all pulling their weight and sliding easily into the narrative, becoming slicked up versions of their former counterparts.
The action scenes are top notch and deliver the patented Mann intensity. Each gun fight displays Mann's utmost command of the genre, delivering chaos and violence with a sincerity not often replicated in the Hollywood blockbuster.
The doomed love affair at the center of the narrative is perhaps Mann's ultimate message. The film's "life goes on" conclusion, set to Mogwai's unforgettable Autorock is fitting capstone to the cult magnum opus. What begins as a super charged and confusing crime epic ends as a meditation on the cost of love and friendship. Two themes that Mann delights in exploring.
In the end, Miami Vice is a hard film to swallow because it's unapologetic visceral assault is the mechanism by which it transcends the crime genre and becomes the ultimate statement on the modern action hero and our society's obsessions with glitz, power, and always winning.
Personally, I'll take more of what Mann is delivering anytime.