A wholly new interpretation from the already groundbreaking TV show.
It seems like Michael Mann would rather make documentary films only those don't pay as well.
In Michael Mann's 2006 revamping, Miami Vice starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx as Crockett and Tubbs, plays more like a documentary than a straight up buddy/cop/action film. These two agents are enlisted to go undercover as they investigate the murders of two agents. However, as is a theme in Mann's films, there is a price to pay for entering this seedy underworld and in crossing over Crockett and Tubbs both have to negotiate their own forms of reality. Tubbs is out for justice against the people who hurt his woman, while Crockett finds himself drawn into the lifestyle via a love affair with drug kingpin Isabella (Gong Li).
In the end, the film's somber feel seems to overwhelm the whole production, but Mann has actually done something I think few filmmakers would have been able to achieve. He has turned Miami Vice into an expose on drug culture and, through his style of working and editing, as managed to give us two well known actors who are almost unrecognizable.
Miami Vice Undercover
Examining the world of undercover agents is fascinating stuff to be sure, and that's pretty much what is looked at here. We found out what it's like to be an agent, the kind of preparation that Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell and all the others had to take on these roles (meeting real undercover agents, etc.), and of course, Michael Mann gets very philosophical on the idea of what an agent does and how what they do is like being "an actor on a stage."
Miami and Beyond and Visualizing Miami Vice
I grouped both of these featurettes together because they cover much of the same ground. As they concern the look of Miami Vice we find out such things as how shooting in real locations effects the film and the actors, that real locales are mandatory because audiences are so smart today, and we get to hear from the actors about what it was like to shoot in these places. There was much made of what a troubled shoot Miami Vice was, but it seems like for all it's problems Michael Mann achieved what he was going after.
Sadly, the three featurettes that are showcased here seem redundant in regards to the other featurettes on this DVD. They are "Gun Training," "Haitian Hotel Camera Blocking," and "Mojo Race." These short segments look at various logistics of the production from how the guns were handled (the mindset that goes into using them), setting up a scene in Haiti (how the production was able to do that amidst the natural chaos of moviemaking), and "Mojo Race" examines the boat race in the film. As a nice amount of this movie does take place on water, they certainly had ample footage from which to work.
Michael Mann begins this commentary track by saying that this version of the film isn't so much a "directors cut" as a "different film." He even goes so far as to call it a "revision." He talks us through a lot of the action, sadly explaining things that there's no way we could have known unless he was talking in our ear. This, like a lot of Michael Mann's commentary tracks, is very cerebral. He discusses putting actors in real locations because he feels it stimulates them, and it honestly seems like he believes in his casts so much that he isn't afraid to push them to the absolute wits end of their creative and emotional cores.
Anamorphic Widescreen - 2.40:1. This movie looked better on my TV than it did in the theater. Michael Mann shoots with a certain kind of digital camera that gets him a documentary look for his $100 million films. I have never thought that it looked that great, but on DVD, compressed and playing on my small TV everything was much sharper. However, for some reason it seemed like the opening credits were much darker than I remember them being in the theater.
English and French Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitled in English, Spanish and French. I had a hard time with the audio in the theater, and I had time with it on my one speaker TV. It isn't the soundtrack or the ambiance, it's the dialogue. It is just really low and because of that it makes this film somewhat hard to follow. I had expected that it would be improved (like the picture) when I watched it on DVD but that sadly wasn't the case.
The front cover image of Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx reminds me of of the one sheet they used to promote this movie. Through it's use of color and graininess it seems almost animated. The back features a shot of Crockett and Tubbs in a drug negotiation, as well as more images from this film. There is a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs. This DVD comes with a vinyl, cardboard cover that is identical to the one on the actual DVD.
I enjoyed Miami Vice a lot when I saw it in the theater. I think it was smart for Michael Mann to completely ditch his original creation, and present the story and characters as he does here. The only problem is that he seems to have created a film that is very hard to follow. I applaud his belief that movie audiences are sophisticated enough to follow this story, but in creating a faux, documentary-like film, he has left out the one thing those films use to lure viewers in... the humanity. I think sometimes Michael Mann gets too smart for his own good. He seems to vacillate between the worlds of heart and emotion, sometimes giving viewers things which can engage them (Thief), and other times creating works that seem to cut all the emotion and humanity out (Ali).
Overall, if you are a fan of mood than you will wholeheartedly embrace this new version of Miami Vice. If not, you would be better of sticking with the still groundbreaking TV show.
Miami Vice was released July 27, 2006.