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tickle the GON, go on... we dare you!
01/9/06 14:04
Gan's G.O.N. - Miami Vice The Film
Crockett. Tubbs. Farrell. Foxx. Mann. It could only be Miami Vice, or could it?

Regardless of whether you agreed or disagreed with my critique of Superman last week, it seemed to generate a bit of interest so I thought I might start a weekly or fortnightly (depending on how lazy I get) chat about movies in general. Films are a real passion of mine and since I was a kid with an overactive imagination, I would eagerly look forward to going to the cinema and be transported away to another world for a few hours to forget my troubles. Anyway, enough melancholy, I'm only on my first paragraph so let me get onto the topic at hand.

While I loved the Superman films, I had a fondness for Miami Vice that was similar to my enjoyment of most of the classic shows in the 80s. It was a great bit of fun, and a lot of nostalgia, so I was expecting to see something similar on the screen. Because when you think about it, Miami Vice was Michael Mann's baby back then and he nurtured it for us to enjoy. It seems though that his baby has grown up which is a real shame. After the success of Heat and Collateral, Michael Mann has been known to do gritty films, which the original series used to be. But this new version is so gritty it's like comparing Sin City to Pee Wee Herman. While the Johnson and Thomas version was bright and full of interesting choices of outfits, the new version is so dark that I half expected Colin Farrell to be wearing a bat suit. Speaking of which, I really wasn't sure what accent Colin was going for, it was a mix of Irish, American and Bale as Batman ("Swear to me!!!!!!"). Still, at least I understood what Farrell and Foxx were saying the whole time, which I can't say for Gong Li. It's nice having eye candy but when she has a main role and you can't understand what she's saying, that's a poor decision. In fact, a lot of the script was meaningless or senseless for me. I know Mann was going for gritty realism and doesn't have time to explain all the abbreviations but I like to know what's being said in a film and what it means, as I modestly consider myself a bit of a scriptwriter (who doesn't?). I knew roughly what was going on but had no clue about some of the actual script. Now, my brother lives in Hong Kong and absolutely loved this film, and I think I know why. He had the benefit of subtitles.

Another thing that really failed to impress me was the relationship, or lack thereof, between Crockett and Tubbs. They were always there for each other in the series and the banter was always pretty good, but none of that here. It's like they were just assigned together that day and apart from one throwaway comment by Foxx, we get no insight as to their relationship as partners. Speaking of insight, the few words that I did understand definitely made me smile, like when Farrell says "where we tread now, no-one's been before". Who talks like that in a gritty realistic cop drama? Ok, the guy with the mullet and the moustache. I didn't have as much of a problem with Farrell's look as others, it was actually pretty amusing and made up for the lack of white jacket and loafers, but Farrell and Foxx were the characters in name only.

One thing that it did have in common with the original series was the great music in the film, although some songs were on so briefly I barely heard them. Numb / Encore is one of my favourite tracks of all time and a great opener, but it was barely used. Another thing that was barely used was the action in the film. There was a very decent and quite climactic gun battle at the end but no real action before that. Just a lot of basic undercover work with a crazy drug lord who reminded me a little of the classic "Peoples" in Shaft ("You best kill me ***********!!") but a bit more brutal. Still, I was expecting more during the film and almost fell asleep which is something I don't think I've ever done even when watching the back to back martial arts films at the old Prince Charles cinema at 3am! At least I was wide awake for the finale which involved Jamie Foxx's clever ruse to get them to open the door "Pizza delivery!". I think stupid has to be added to the list of cowardly and superstitious when talking about criminals.

So what I'm trying to say in a very roundabout way is I really didn't enjoy the film. All it did was bear the name of the TV series, and was Michael Mann trying to do what he does best. Unfortunately for him, I thought it fell far short. Even if it was a totally different film with a totally different name, I still wouldn't have enjoyed it as the film was fairly dull and has been done before and better in countless other films, Collateral being a notable example. Maybe you have a different opinion, if so, let me know!

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