I liked the original the “”Miami Vice” television show … at least most of it. It was stylish, kinda dark (for television), and made the best use of music in the medium at the time. When I heard Michael Mann, the individual who rose to fame off his real (or perceived) role in creating the look and feel of the television series, was making a “”Miami Vice” movie, I had high hopes. I like Mann … or at least every other one of his films. He knows how to tell a story. He knows how to get you hooked. He can weave an action sequence, and he makes pretty good use of music. He’s a big picture kind of guy. Not that he thinks about big pictures; he understands the bigger picture. So “”Miami Vice”? Yeah, I was interested. Interested enough to think I may even lift my self-imposed ban on films derived from other sources. Maybe.
And then I saw the trailer and was left very unimpressed.
I’ve read of all the tales of trouble on the set, which is sometimes the smoke in the smoke and mirrors act to get you to see a film that can’t stand on its own. Controversy and strife sell, and this movie had both in spades by all accounts. Shootings, drug addiction, partying, natural disasters and a skyrocketing budget all made the entertainment news. Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx (whose name is spelled like that of a porn star) were on board, though, and they are both considered talented actors, so all things should have been in place for a kick a*s time at the ol’ cinema.
But that trailer did nothing for me.
I wanted a “”Miami Vice” movie that sizzled off the screen. I wanted style and action and attitude. I wanted angst and appropriate music (not cover versions of songs made popular by the television show). I wanted a “”Miami Vice” movie that sold itself. That trailer showed me none of that, but it did show me a fifth generation copy of all those things.
Watching that trailer, the only thing I could tell about the film was that it was a cop movie using the “”Miami Vice” title. It could’ve been any cop film with any title. Hell, why not call it “”Narc 2″? Oh, I know. “”Miami Vice” is a ready-made franchise. The show changed television and fashion. The show launched singing careers (which proved God wasn’t only dead, but that Satan had taken over). The show made Mann a household name. The series showed viewers that television stories could be done a different way. Mann would have some pretty big shows to fill if he wanted his film to have the same impact, which may have been the problem. Maybe he didn’t care … and maybe that’s not an entirely bad thing.
I understand that Mann is an artist. He doesn’t look at film the same way as the Wayans brothers do. He sees it as a canvas, and while the end product may not exactly be art, he has an artist’s sensibility about the way he does things. Unfortunately, “”Miami Vice” feels like he’s trying to gild s**t. “”Miami Vice” has already been done. It didn’t need to be done again. It couldn’t really break new ground … at least not while it’s called “”Miami Vice.” But Mann couldn’t hear that. He thought he could try, and the end result produced a trailer that projected my second biggest fear (the first being that it would a direct clone of the television series). It was a trailer for a film with no heart, no vision, and no sense of self. All those things had been set in the television series, and this was just an attempt to recapture the magic in a whole new way, and not even the most talented writers or directors can do that. Magic is magic because it only happens once.
When I saw that trailer, I immediately thought, “”No way am I going to see that. It just confirms everything I think about old television shows being made into films.” And while it did have Mann’s name going for it, that actually made it worse. You can almost understand someone else doing it and getting it wrong. This, however, was unacceptable.
“”Miami Vice” the film? No. It’s unnecessary, and desperate, and I expect more from Mann. An extended version DVD, which Celebrity Watchdog George Anthony Watson keeps threatening to buy me, with all the bells and whistles won’t do the trick, either. Mann’s next film better be a masterpiece, or I’m writing him off for good.