Our favourite undercover detectives from the 80’s are back in this update of the TV series. This time around, drug lords and a murder case in South Florida dangerously weave into the personal lives of Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs.
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As flat as the procedural sting operation plot elements are, as dormant it's with tension and suspense, as seldom are the otherwise phenomenal action setpieces, and as much the romantic elements are like a James Bond-style disposable love story, Miami Vice is watchable for Mann's eloquent mise-en-scene and atmosphere. It's probably his worse film, but he has so many great ones, that's not saying it's even average.
Top Ten countdown – #10 Digital is mood in Miami Vice; its movement, shadows, and colours are unique. This heavy hyper-real DV style, aptly reflects a narrative of gestures that constitutes the (under)world and characters we follow. A noise-heavy indigo sky, moving speedboats in the dark, silent tears at a club. A nightmare they're forced to inhabit, permeated by the tragic notion that in the end nothing has changed.
Mann's aesthetic concern w/ how digital photography might reveal the material texture of light & darkness is here fused with an almost Wellesian mode of image-making & myth-making. MIAMI VICE is Mann at his most baroque: foregrounds are stressed, compositional depths explode. These characters are mythological titans, towering among cityscapes, glistening across seas, eyes full of quiet emotion, firm resolve, & life.
One of the most mis marketed films in recent years. Mann has trouble finding the narrative drive of his early films amidst the abstractions however the sheer sense of disillusionment/loss underlying what's on the surface a typical cop drama makes for one of the most subversive studio films of the 00's. There's an existentialism to the final shootout that's rarely seen in action films. A must see.
I don't know that I've ever turned around on a film to the extent that I did for Miami Vice. What initially struck me as a hollow, scattershot attempt to rejuvenate a series that was better left in the'80s (along with almost everything that the decade produced). But a second viewing showed me an impressionistic masterpiece. Already climbing up my list of favorites in the few months since my epiphany.
A momentous photographically stunning experience with a surprisingly emotional payoff. Very few directors give guns of any shape or size their deserved respect but Mann films them in such a fresh and unique way it is truly inspiring.
A fascinating experiment which, in hindsight, may have succeeded, especially with the use of digital cameras, if this wasn’t such a dour yet clichéd crime thriller, a story which ends up becoming pretentious and jarring against the moody atmosphere.