Dir. Michael Mann. 2006. R. 133mins. Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Gong Li, Naomie Harris.
Mann has always been more of a mood maker than a storyteller, and digital technology has only enhanced his ability to induce reverie. Shot in the same high-definition video as his daring Collateral, his reinvigoration of Miami Vice isn’t quite to Dade County what Collateral was to Los Angeles. But it’s haunting in its own right, a symphony of iridescent speedometers, purple storm clouds and bridges lit in neon blue.
All of which is wonderful, since Mann’s convoluted scenario plays like a pilot for a new show, littered with unintroduced characters and subplots that never pay off. With no opening credits, the movie plunges us, TV-like, into a story involving a multiagency dope bust gone sour. The exposition is made more palatable through a relentless noir cadence. “Probability is like gravity. You cannot negotiate with gravity,” advises Farrell’s Crockett, somehow blanker than Don Johnson’s, in a non sequitur worthy of David Mamet.
And of course, Crockett and Tubbs (Foxx) do like the ladies. As the alluring kingpin who Crockett falls for, Gong alone nearly pushes this to five stars. Despite a monologue about a bullet to the medulla that almost unseats “well, do ya, punk?” as filmdom’s foremost trigger taunt, Vice is less an action film than an operatic study in pec sweat and body textures. The anticlimactic final shot leaves one hungry for another episode.—Ben Kenigsberg