Miami sleep machine
Director Michael Mann brings back Crockett and Tubbs, minus the pastels, minus the coolness, minus the action, minus …
With the emergence of music-industry pimp Empty-Vee in the early ‘80s, director Michael Mann became one of the first filmmakers to translate the snappy editing of the music video format to the long-form narrative of television drama and, later, film. Deep in the heart of the Reagan era, the pastel-friendly posturing of Don Johnson to the adult contemporary jukebox Miami Vice became a brief cultural touchstone, infamously notable for making the three-day stubble hip and the horrendous side effect of launching Phil Collins’ solo career.
Twenty years later, leave it to Hollywood to perfect recycling as a garbage-in, garbage-out concept. Here Mann has delivered what has to be the most inactive action movie ever made, unless Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx doing the bad-boy vogue from their cars and back can be considered action. And they sure do a lot of that …
Against the dark underbelly of Miami night, as ominous rumbles of thunder crash on the horizon, undercover narcs Crockett and Tubbs are on the verge of blowing their cover to go to the aid of a hooker being pimp-slapped when they receive a well-timed call on their cell phone. Seems an FBI snitch is unhappy that …
What the hell am I doing … the plot here doesn’t make a lick of sense, so what’s the point in trying to provide a brief synopsis? Not that the plot is complicated, it’s just slim buncombe. Most of the time, it’s not even set in Miami. It’s some nonsense about Crockett and Tubbs going deep undercover to infiltrate a Colombian drug cartel for the FBI. A few minutes into their first meeting with the sociopathic drug lord, Sonny boy decides he wants to do the mobster’s girlfriend. So being the consummate pro, he ducks off with her to Havana in his closet-case-compensation speedboat, where they slam back some mojitos, tango and then swing over to her place to get the sheets all sweaty.
What any female would see in a mojito-swilling dyspeptic dude with a greasy mullet, cheesy mustache and eyebrows that look like a pair of furry caterpillars rearing back to bite each other’s heads off is beyond me. Have I implied yet that Farrell lacks any sort of charisma? If so, my bad. … The man exudes the charisma of a freshly opened can of cheap tuna. Mann made Don Johnson seem cool. That he fails to do the same with Farrell raises the question: Why does this actor manqué keep getting cast in these big-budget outings?
As to Foxx, the most he’s called on to do is roll around for five minutes with some actress and pretend to have sex, which I assume stands in for character development in this Mann’s world. Otherwise, he abides with a look on his face that reads as if he’s just sat on a hemorrhoid donut that someone had pulled from the icebox. Or maybe it’s a barely concealed mien of fear that after this film they’ll take away his Oscar and make him go back to working with the Wayans brothers. Or perhaps his expression comes only from the distaste of having the dialogue of Mann’s script spill over his tongue. Such clever repartee as “If you can’t do the time, don’t mess with crime” and “If we didn’t do time with them, we ain’t doing crime with them” is painful enough to hear, let alone being an actor captured on high-tech digital video uttering lines that sound as if they were penned by a 13-year-old gangsta wannabe writing Scarface slash fiction.
And speaking of digital video, Mann manages to set George Lucas’ crusade for the nascent technology back a few years by delivering some of the ugliest, out-of-focus uses of the medium I’ve seen … although to be fair, he does include a few nicely composed daytime shots of airplanes swooping about pillowy clouds.
Wait … a few? He throws in a buttload of those shots. The airplane flying from Point A to Point B. The airplane flying from Point B to Point A …And so it goes, as the movie just plods along. Hey, look—Crockett and Tubbs are vogueing back to their bitchin’ Ferrari that shoots blue flames from the tailpipes!