John Ortiz, left, Colin Farrell, centre, and Jamie Foxx in Miami Vice.
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell
Director: Michael Mann
*** (out of five)
Michael Mann’s Miami Vice is one of those big-screen remakes that deserves the term “reimagining” instead of “TV upgrade” — pretty much the only things left of Anthony Yerkovich’s seminal ’80s crime drama are the characters’ names, their affinity for undercover work, and their location.
Fans of Day-Glo and Jan Hammer are going to be pissed.
Then again, Mann has thrown everything out for two very good reasons: There’s no place for nostalgia in his edgy, gritty movies about the blurry line between good guys and bad guys, and if he made the movie the show’s fans really wanted to see, it’d be about as worthwhile as Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s Starsky & Hutch.
Nope, Miami Vice is a different animal — a movie about moral men who do bad things (drug smuggling, money laundering, and so on) to do greater good down the road, exposing themselves to temptation, corruption and worse.
Jamie Foxx gets it, turning up his intensity so high that the odd joke registers like a thunderclap. Not so much Colin Farrell, though, whose beefy take on Sonny Crockett alternates between a fixed stare and that twitchy-eyed thing he does when he’s waiting on a line of dialogue; Farrell’s also saddled with an unconvincing love story subplot that sends the movie stumbling in its second hour.
Of course, after Heat and Collateral, we know Mann’s too good a director not to take us somewhere thrilling for the big finish, and in its last half-hour Miami Vice rights itself and delivers a splashy finale that’ll send everyone home happy.