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Miami Vice (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) reprise the roles made famous by Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas, respectively, in the 1980s TV series of the same name. But this time Director Michael Mann, who cut his bones on the original, recognizes that Colin and Jamie are different cats from Don and Phillip, so Sonny and Ricardo forego the pastel and panache of the original. The result isn’t bad; it’s just different.

As with before, Sonny and Ricardo are fighting drug dealers in Miami. They go undercover where Sonny meets Isabella (Gong Li) and starts an affair with her, even though she is the main woman of the big bad crimelord, Montoya (Luis Tosar). But Montoya really isn’t the bad guy in this. That role is filled by Jose Yero (John Ortiz), who doesn’t like Sonny or Isabella.

But, just like the TV series, the story has the identical sameness. The drug dealers are bad and ruthless; our heroes are unconventional and tough; and the locations vie with the actors for top billing. As a result, it’s not the story that keeps things going. This film belongs to the guys behind the camera. Mann has put together an exceptionally talented team, including Academy Award winning Director of Photography Dion Beebe, and editors William Goldenberg and Paul Rubell, who keep things moving despite the 131-minute length. Adding immeasurably to the pace is John Murphy’s music. In fact, for a film like this, and “Collateral,” upon which Mann and Murphy also collaborated, the music can make or break it.

Naturally the locations are almost as important as the cast and crew. Miami is the principal location, along with some pretty fancy boats. Sonny and Ricardo spend some time throughout the Caribbean and South America and all the locales used capture the moment.

As for the actors, Foxx is just along for the ride. This is clearly Farrell’s movie. He’s a great actor, and he does a good job, but he doesn’t have the magic that Johnson added to the role.

Don’t be intimidated by the over 2-hour running time. The film is so well done and so well acted that interest shouldn’t lag.

July 26, 2006