Miami Vice (Unrated Director's Edition) [Blu-ray]
Unrated Director's Edition
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(Sep 10, 2013)
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Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell go deep undercover in the explosive, action-packed Miami Vice Unrated Director's Edition! When detectives Ricardo Tubbs (Foxx) and Sonny Crockett (Farrell) are asked to investigate the brutal murders of two federal agents, they find themselves pulled into the lethal world of drug traffickers. From the acclaimed director of Heat and Collateral comes an exclusive motion picture experience you won't want to miss!
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Still, even this hobbled version is a fantastic film, one of the finest from Michael Mann, uncompromising in tone and austerity of exposition -- you pay attention to this movie or it leaves you in the dust. The film's detractors typically point to the fact that it isn't the TV show; but this is a strength, not a weakness, as it ditches day-glo shirts and white suits and loafers without socks in favor of a stripped-down narrative about betrayal and loss and the physical, mental, and emotional risks taken by those law-enforcement officials who infiltrate criminal organizations to bring them down from within. There are fast cars and airplanes (and some absolutely gorgeous cinematography of the latter), but these are tools, means to an end, where in the TV series they were often an end in themselves. The movie doesn't support the viewer with constant expository dialogue ("We've got to get in good with the syndicate! They won't believe us if our cover story isn't airtight! Now we're going to fly stolen drugs out of Venezuela into Miami!"), and it may take several viewings to really understand the machinations of the various factions in the story, but attentive viewers will be rewarded with a more complex Sonny Crockett than ever appeared on the small screen, and a Tubbs who is both cooler and more intense than his TV counterpart, in a story that feels more like we're witnessing a real event than watching a fictional one.
For Miami Vice purists, it's cool...I'm not bashing the original flavor, but like most things from the 80's, nostalgia for what is remembered is very different than the reality of what it is (was). When Mann approached the remix, he wanted to essentially distance himself from the cheesy, neon-and-pastel glow of 80's Miami, to the reality of today's South Florida. Reality is actually a good term to use here.
Everything in Miami Vice is ramped up, like Spinal Tap, to 11. However, if you've been to Miami, you know this is not too far off from the reality of the uber-rich in South Florida. Shows like CSI-Miami paint a picture that is not entirely inaccurate (regarding the culture of Miami...not so much the realities of police work, especially crime scene investigation). This challenge for Mann, who deals in the visceral, was succesful to a high level, and the movie plays with a gritty tangilibity throughout. Sure, its slick, but its also not airbrushed, and I believe successful in its duality of the shiny veneer of Dade County, and the much darker underbelly of the money that comes with it.
Mann has several techniques that build tension, and he's used this playbook on most of his movies. Directorial style is something that is conspicuously missing in Hollywood today, and is seems many reinvent themselves each picture, so I appreciate the consistency, especially when its solid tool kit. Use of grainy imagery, jittery first-person camera techniques, very, very fitting music (music is immensely important in Mann's films), a certain color palette that projects an ambiance, and off-the-rails gun play are certainly some of the main mastery that Mann relies on, and they work. He also continues to use the Hitchcockian "what is not seen is more effective than what is" camera-work with great success, and in this day in age of every thematic element being spelled out to the dumbed-down acceptance of the masses, its refreshingly identifiable.
As said before, music, from the score to the mainstream songs used in various scenes, is placed with virtuosity. This is one area where Mann relates the new Miami Vice with the old, as the synthesizer-infused score has that very famliar Jan Hammer vibe. The track "A500" is everything you loved about the old series music, updated to 2006 (YouTube it...I'm not wrong) From the cuban music in Havana, to the mixed techno in club Mansion, to the remake of the synonymous Phil Collins' tune "In the Air Tonight" by Miami natives Non-Point, to the once again effective use of Michael Mann favorites Moby and Audioslave (he must be on a first name basis with these guys) conveys a soundtrack that is much more well contemplated, accurate, and effective than most movies these days bother to even attempt.
This movie is also a Wikipedia-Geeks dream - to the vehicles they drive (the Ferrari F430 spouting unburnt fuel on upshifts is memorable), the planes they fly (the aforementioned A500 is a rare and unique bird), the boats they race (MTI's near 2000 horsepower cigarette boat is the stuff of legend), and the guns they shoot (bad guys with Barrett big-50's is plausible...Miami-Dade vice detectives with H&K G36's, not so much) begs movie geeks to look a little further. Investigation of the filming of the movie has its own mythos as well, and many of the out-of-country urban areas they filmed in were every bit as dangerous as they appear. Method acting, indeed.
Overall, yes, the sum is greater than the parts of this film, but they add up to, what I feel, is Mann's most successful project, and one of my favorite movies of the last ten years. He has created a "feeling" with this movie, a world that is tactile and believeable, despite its ostentatious nature...and that is no small feat.
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