Movie Review: Miami Vice
We went to see the new "Miami Vice" movie this Saturday!
(You can read Season's review here)
I remember watching the iconic 80's television show this movie has been adapted from, so I went into this with some high expectations.
At first the movie seems to bear no resemblance whatsoever to the television show, but in fact the film does follow the format of an old "Miami Vice" episode.
No more neon drenched scenery and pastel-colored fashions. The movie takes place in a gritty, solemn present day Florida and while they have chosen to abandon the recognizable trappings that would probably help sell the idea of a Miami Vice movie, they have used the original show's central concept and format while updating the look and the style.
The plot, as you may have guessed, revolves around an undercover drug operation headed up by Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx).
There isn't an opening sequence, the Universal logo appears and suddenly we're plunged into a Miami nightclub where Crockett, Tubbs, and crew are undercover tracking the movements of a prostitution ring.
They get a surprise call from an old informant that is now working for the FBI. The informant wants to advise them that he didn't give them up and that he is going to disappear. The level headed Crockett and Tubbs immediately call the FBI to advise them that whatever operation that informant may have been a part of is probably compromised. It has.
Two undercover agents from a multi-jurisdictional operation are killed by some nasty white supremacist at a "meet and greet" for a drug sale. Now it's not because the informant gave them up, they somehow already knew.
The FBI agent in charge meets with Crockett, Tubbs, and their Lieutenant to discuss involving the two undercover officers to catch the white supremacist drug dealers. The idea is that since Miami Police was not part of the multi-jurisdictional operation they have not been compromised or are part of a possible leak. They are given some intelligence, autonomy, and sent on their way.
Crockett, Tubbs and the rest of the undercover team decide to take out the transporter and steal a shipment to disrupt the drug operation and give themselves an "in" with the cartel. After that they use another informant to introduce them as possible new transporters. They meet the South American supplier, Yero and his boss, a Cuban/Chinese woman named Isabella.
Crockett and Tubbs move their way slowly up the ladder, constantly proving themselves to the criminals they meet and setting the stakes higher. While this is going on Crockett begins an inappropriate and dangerous romance with Isabella, who is not actually the boss but a partner for the mysterious Archangel de Jesus Montoya-Londono who runs the narcotrafficking network. The network has their hands into everything and have really good intelligence themselves, supposedly from some leak within the justice system.
Crockett and Tubbs work their way quickly into a limited partnership with Jesus, but Yero is suspicious and jealous of Isabella's dealings with Crockett. Yero cuts a deal with the white supremacist who kidnap Tubbs' girlfriend (who is another officer on the team) and want to exchange her for the shipment of drugs. She is rescued, but seemingly fatally injured in an explosion.
Yero then blames Crockett and Tubbs for not delivering the shipment and exposes Isabella and Crockett's relationship as more than just business to Jesus. Jesus advises Yero that Isabella now belongs to him and gives the Okay to kill Crockett and Tubbs. Yero sets up a meeting between the white supremacist group and the officers to exchange the drugs for money. The only stipulation that Crockett and Tubbs have is that Yero be present.
The meeting goes down and Yero is holding Isabella hostage. A big shoot out commences. Crockett and Tubbs expose themselves as Police and the swat teams come in. All the bad guys die, except the kingpin Jesus who gets away. Crockett runs off with Isabella and lets her go.
To me the movie is a pared-down narrative, heavy on incident and light on nuance, which gives the movie a strange realism and immediacy. It tends to gloss over some of the human details that perhaps should have been more fleshed out.
Crockett and his partner Tubbs are established early on in broad strokes - one's the ambitious, girl-crazy hotshot while the other a more calm, tactical and judicious officer with a steady girlfriend and a strong desire to live past the next few days.
That's about all we'll get in terms of character development. I suppose you may be expected to be familiar with them from the television show.
The other cops and criminals in the movie are the same. There is no "getting to know you" scenes. It made it difficult to develop any kind of genuine concern for the characters. There are also small plot points that never seem to be developed or are just given a quick explanation to get on with the bigger picture.
In general, the direction, acting, and casting were good. Visually, the film was impressive. In terms of plot and story, you could definatley have seen this play out as an episode on the show, but as a movie it was lacking some substance.
I give this movie: Two And A Half Out Of Five Pink Flamingos!