I did something that I usually do not do with new releases. I read the critics before watching the film.
This happened because I noticed that Miami Vice sat in the rotten section of Rotten Tomatoes.
If you have never been, Rotten Tomatoes aggregates the reviews of multiple critics, major and minor, for every film. Their review scores are summed and averaged into one rating, which is on a percentage. They call it the "Tomato Meter."
My experience with Rotten Tomatoes . . . it's accurate. Films that end up rotten usually are not worth the time and money spent at the box office. In fact, films that rate under 75 percent, even some of the fresh ones, they tend not to be worth it.
Miami Vice currently rests dead even . . . 50 percent . . . which is "rotten."
I asked myself, Why could this film be rotten?
I did this for the positive reviews, but I asked myself, What's great about this film?
In the process, I read spoilers. If I catch spoilers for films I haven't watched, it doesn't really bother me. I play medical examiner, performing a mental autopsy on poor films. This helps me write, hopefully, with more power. It's not for everyone.
There was no way that I was going to pass on Miami Vice, you should understand. I lived for the television show as a child. The ratings merely surprised me, and I had to know.
Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas were two guys I heartily enjoyed. They were rough, tough, and they personified renegades. Don Johnson's Crockett was waaaay over the top for a cop. All of the glitz, glamour, and violence . . . that's a neon sign to a child. That sign reads, "Watch This Show, and See How Some Adults Behave . . . Badly."
I tuned in every Friday night at 10 PM on WDIV local 4 to catch "Miami Vice." My Friday nights were booked through most of the 1980s.
I am a touch in love with "Miami Vice."
I had to go on opening night. Had to.
After Heidi and I arrived at our seats, two seniors entered our row and sat next to us. They asked if there was a third seat. There was another to their party. Sure enough . . . this elderly lady, who was probably 80-90 years of age, enters the theatre on the other side . . . with a walker. We stood up and exited the row so the lady could be helped into her seat. I said, helped.
Shortly after we re-seated, the lights dimmed, and the film began.
The beginning of Miami Vice is best described as awkward.
The film begins abruptly, and Crockett and Tubbs are in a nightclub. They're on some mission to bag some scumbags. In the middle of the action, Crockett receives a phone call from a former informant who's gone apes over some deal that went very wrong.
Of all the major points of contention, many of them begin and end with Colin Farrell.
I watched his performance for accent. Apparently, from reviews, Farrell switched between southern drawl and some clumsy and choppy masking of an Irish accent. This happens throughout the film. At some points, Crockett talks with a southern accent. At other points, I thought Don Johnson did some voice-overs. At other points, Colin Farrell's voice became terse and staccato, which is far from what a southern 'drawl' is supposed to sound. Drawl in syllables . . . the direct opposite of terse and staccato.
To be honest, I don't even remember Don Johnson having a pronounced drawl. Johnson would sometimes drawl out some words for emphasis, but it always seemed more midwestern, even Missouri-ish, than Floridian. You can read here about the character of Sonny Crockett. He grew up, in sum, in southern Florida as an 'all-American' boy. Southern Florida . . . hence . . . a southern drawl.
For sake of Hollywood, no one really gives a shit if it's an authentic southern Floridian accent.
People do notice, however, when a character's accent appears to change . . . into different accents. That's just a continuity error, to me.
In Colin's defense, the character of Sonny Crockett is implausible in the realm of "Miami Vice."
Sonny Crockett, you see, went to the University of Florida and played wide receiver for their american football squad, the Gators. He was a star athlete. Sonny worked undercover in the Miami vice squad, which is highly unlikely, since most every crackhead would have recognized him from his playing days.
This film might have worked better if Colin Farrell was allowed to play . . . Colin Farrell.
I'd buy an Irish, English, or Scottish guy who wound up emigrating in his teens to the States with his father, who worked with the US Government. Somehow, Colin's Irish Crockett might have worked better, even though the name "Crockett" I believe might be Scottish. Again, in Hollywood, hitting it, in general, tends to work.
This pretty much was how Jamie Foxx treated Rico Tubbs. That was just Jamie Foxx in Miami Vice, since it sure as hell wasn't a faithful rendition of Philip Michael Thomas's Tubbs.
However, this film did not suffer because of Foxx.
I am now convinced that Jamie Foxx could endorse Alpo with these lines . . .
"Buy this Alpo. I'm Jamie Foxx. Reckanize."
. . . and the commercial would win a Clio Award.
Philip Michael Thomas and Jamie Foxx are two entirely different takes on Rico Tubbs. I remember Philip's rendition as a more subtle and supporting partner with Johnson's Crockett. The two clearly had chemistry, and you could feel that bond of partners in the ideal sense. Crockett and Tubbs went about as well together as, for sake of a sports reference, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. Farrell and Foxx? They went together like Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.
Okay, Shaq and Kobe might be a stretch, but there wasn't much of a bond between the two. I didn't really buy their partnership as much as I bought Johnson and Thomas. However, this wasn't a problem with me.
I enjoyed the differences between this Crockett and Tubbs. They were partners, but it was the loose kind of partnership, one where two guys are thrown together, an odd couple, and both have already pushed beyond any major antagonism to the moment we see them on screen . . . veterans, not alike, not a problem, trust in each other. They do their job, and they're really amazing at what they do.
Foxx's Tubbs was the best performance of all the characters. What sold me on him?
During the awkward beginning (and this is a LOOONG film), Tubbs is about to get it on with Trudy, played by Naomie Harris. She's out of the shower, and she gets in bed with Tubbs, and it's time to have sex. We can see that they're in progress . . . some dramatic-ish score's going on in the background . . . and I'm about to stop caring about this film, right at that point . . . because . . . as-was, the scene, at that point, well, the film hit rock bottom. It reeked.
Suddenly, Tubbs appears to climax. It's like 15-30 seconds into it.
"I'm just playing," Tubbs says.
Suddenly, this sex scene became one of the best 'R' rated sex scenes that I've ever watched.
That's three stars, right there.
Two more stars happened for me near the beginning.
Some of the complaints have centered around the violence. I've read a range of complaints from 'not enough' to 'too much/too violent.'
We watch a group of guys doing what appears to be a standard Hollywoodian drug deal. Vehicle pulls up . . . two slick dudes get out . . . they do the deal dance . . . show the money . . . where's the product . . . where's the money . . . here it is . . . okay, here it is . . . okay, you got the deal . . . come on back, we'll get it for you.
The two slicks head back to the car . . . other guy across the way mentions how long they've been working with the FBI . . . cue the thunder and hail of bullets.
Excuse me, this is Miami Vice. Among the hail of bullets . . .
Cue the heavy caliber automatic rifle. Think of enough caliber to blow through automobiles.
From a backseat POV, one guy's arm blew off. These two guys got annihilated.
Throw in a chaser of the informant stepping in front of an eighteen-wheeler on a Miami interstate, thus acing himself . . . and Mann cuts to an angle where we see the red smear and giblets of what's left of the informant as the wheeler passes through . . .
This is the big screen version of "Miami Vice" that I waited to see for twenty years.
When I was young, I loved this show so much that I wished I could see a Miami Vice movie. . . one from Hollywood . . . on the big screen. I wanted to see levels of violence and . . . well, "Miami Vice"-EXTREME, stuff which I knew wouldn't fly with the TV censors.
Wish . . . granted. The tension gripped me the rest of the way.
I caution on the violence . . . in terms of quantity and quality . . . Mann's violence meters have tipped higher in previous films.
The end of Heat was an amazing finale, complete with a highly memorable romping shootout following a blown heist that moved well toward the end of the film at the airport. Also, the quality and quantity of violence in Collateral could probably edge Miami Vice on both counts.
The rest of the violence, however, in Miami Vice, well, it's worth it.
What may not be worth it for many is what was passed as dialogue.
I noticed what others noticed and wrote. I didn't understand much of what was said between many of the characters, especially Colin Farrell's Crockett. I think, with most films, the unintelligible lines would have been unforgivable. That is not the case with this film.
Does it matter if Farrell stumbles a sentence into gibberish, even though he's not speaking with a thick accent like Gong Li, who played Isabella, one of the characters from the drug cartel . . . ?
Come on . . . it's Gong Li.
Protests? Even I have to wonder why Gong Li played a role where Isabella's not only wooed by Colin Farrell's mulleted Crockett . . . but she also manages to get busy with Luis Tosar's Arcángel de Jesús Montoya, Miami Vice's powerful kingpin of the drug world. Employees . . . with benefits. Otherwise, she was a powerful woman.
Come on . . . it's Michael Mann.
Michael Mann paints some of the best camera canvases of all the directors. His films are slick. Miami Vice looks gorgeous.
Negative reviews included the lack of pastels and Miami-ish Vice-ish feel to it, but I disagree. I enjoyed the grittiness in this version. Miami Vice featured enough glitz and glamour, and it blended some ghetto. Mann visited the range. Crockett and Tubbs dealt with scum in scummy areas, and they even traveled to other countries to do this. Mann even managed to capture the original feel of "Miami Vice" while romping around in this new heaven and hell. Without Mann, this film likely would have looked and played like complete garbage.
If you're still not sure, I can put it like this.
"Miami Vice" was my "All My Children," "General Hospital," "Dynasty," "Another World," "Dallas," "Passions," "Days of Our Lives," "Beverly Hills 90210," "Melrose Place" . . .
This was not a show that was very strong in story. It approached quality, but most TV-quality . . . is crap. It was a movie based off a network television show. It was a guilty pleasure.
It doesn't make much sense, the whole series, really. Neither did this film. Near the end of the film, Trudy is kidnapped, and they manage to barely rescue her. The way they rescued her, and everything involved in the rescue, including timely police presence . . . well, should have blown any shred of cover. Instead, John Ortiz's José Yero, another one of Montoya's employees, well, he agrees to meet up with Crockett and Tubbs to recover his shipment from them. There's no reason why Yero should ever agree to meet in person with Crockett and Tubbs, ever, ever, not after Yero previously orchestrated the kidnapping of Trudy and failed to kill Trudy, Crockett, and Tubbs. No reason. Yet, Yero shows up with his muscle.
The only way that can be explained is pure hatred and jealousy, which Mann hints at with Yero's character through previous scenes where he gives extended glares at Crockett.
Don't get me wrong. John Ortiz did a wonderful job. Ortiz's Yero was an excellent villain. Yero? I hated that son of a bitch. Hated him. I wished his character would die. I got my wish. When Tubbs rocked his world, I screamed . . .
"F@*% YOU, YOU M@TH&RF@*%&R!1!!!"
. . . and I convulsed in my seat and flipped him the double-bird.
The audience behind me erupted with laughter among the wild cheers.
I haven't hated an on-screen villain, legitimately, like I did Yero, to be able to recall. It's been a while, and I'm tired. I mean, Yero was such a rotten dude. Rotten. More rotten than Montoya, his ice-cold and ruthless boss. Yero had the right combination of jealousy, hatred, passive-aggressiveness, duplicity, and in the end, utter stupidity. It worked, big time, for me . . . the final two stars.
At the end of the film, I clapped. So did a bunch of others.
I can't even begin to wonder how the elderly ladies next to us made it through Miami Vice.
No paramedics arrived. They didn't run from the theatre. They were there at the end. They, especially the one with the walker, were troopers.
This film was rife with flaws, but it was great entertainment, and I give 7 on IMDB to films which I'll actually watch more than once. When this film arrives on DVD, I will rent it. I want to find out what the hell Farrell and the other characters said. I want to re-witness the glorious scenery.
If you're a "Miami Vice" fan, you really have to see this film. Maybe I saved you the time and money, but maybe you see it anyway because now you won't walk into the theatre with great expectation.