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Miami Vice  

Review: written 2006

Not thrilling, but intense and realistic

You have to wonder why Michael Mann even bothered to call this Miami Vice. The name makes perfect generic sense for the movie, and yet it has precious little in common with the TV series from the 80's it is . Perhaps his point is, if he made that series now, this is how it might have looked.

So what do we get - it is a serious and intelligent portrayal of the drugs business in Miami. In some ways, it is closer to 'Traffic' in showing the mechanics of how it all happens, rather than a thriller like `Heat' for which Mann is better known. Only at the end do we get a shoot-out in full Michael Mann style. Farrell and Foxx do not make natural buddy movie material - these are long standing partners who barely need to speak, they know and understand each other already, and we do not see the bonding process. Instead, this movie is all about process, and little about the characters with the plot focussing on the team's infiltration of a large drug running organisation, posing as boat runners.

The only real venture into characterisation is the wonderful Gong Li, the Cuban Chinese wife of the main villain. Although not the star of the movie, she steals many of the scenes - perhaps it is just in Mann's nature to flesh out the characters of the crooks rather than the police... Crockett falls in love with her, blurring the line of duty for him. Foxx also gets his own personal involvement later in the movie, driving the plot's run to the final shoot out where they all need to make the difficult transition from their undercover character's and their real lives as cops.

It's well worth a watch - the trademark blue tinged cinematography, big boats, big guns etc. are all there telling you this is a Mann movie - and as long as you expect something a little different, and yes, perhaps not as good as usual, you won't be disappointed.

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