My cat has coughed up hairballs that make more sense than MIAMI VICE. At least a hairball serves a vital physiological function that makes the feline’s existence more pleasant in the long run after an irritating 30 seconds or so. Michael Mann’s big screen version of the uber-hip 80s television series is just irritating, and a lot longer than 30 seconds. It’s incoherently plotted, ineptly directed, and boasts the dubious distinction of featuring characters that have had any inkling of personality stripped from them.
We know that it’s set in Miami, because that’s in the title. We know it involves vice, same reason. We can gather that the particular vice is drugs by the way it’s moved around in kilos and by the way that the bad guys fighting over it have heavy Latin accents and either hail from or hang out in places like Colombia. We know that Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) work as undercover cops because we watched the show back in the 80s. Beyond that, we know nothing and learn very little as the two hours crawl by. This is odd because there is a great deal of talking. People talk in chic condos with fabulous ocean views. People talk in glitzy clubs. People talk in shiny cars and in very fast boats. In fact the only time people aren’t talking endlessly about things that the script never attempts to link together is when they are posing as though Vogue were snapping photos, or when they are having some of the most uninspired sex ever to be committed to celluloid. Forget abstinence counseling, show hormone-enraged teenagers Gong Li and Farrell coupling with the tentativeness of people balancing on a tightrope over a pit of teeming vipers and suddenly doing the nasty will not seem quite so appealing. As for why Gong Li’s character is in the flick, barking her lines and being only mostly intelligible, that’s yet another mystery.
There’s not even the neon-glow of Miami to distract us. Gone are the pastels and the “no earth tones” rule of the television incarnation. No, it’s all black and/or white with cinematography that makes even the green of palm trees and the blue of the ocean fall within that range. As for an action sequence or two to divert, there are exactly that many and they just lay there and play dead. When the dialogue isn’t oblique, it is cheesy. When the actors are allowed to emote, it is badly. And that catchy theme from the series is nowhere to be heard, not even as a reference in the completely forgettable score. The only thing anyone involved seems to be interested in is the expensive modes of transportation that people use. There are long lingering, even loving, shots of cars and speedboats that fill the screen with their company name. Draw your own conclusions. The question becomes, why even bother to call it MIAMI VICE?
Long, lugubrious, and paced to allow us to actually watch the beads of sweat pop up on the actor’s skin, if, that is, they were actually allowed to sweat in the tropical climate in which they exist, this has Razzie written all over it, and it’s the only writing in this whole sordid mess that even comes close to making sense.