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Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) is urbane and dead smart. He lives with Bronx-born intel analyst Trudy (Naomie Harris) as they work undercover transporting drug loads into South Florida to identify a group responsible for three murders. Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell), who may seem unorthodox, but is actually procedurally sound, is charismatic and flirtatious until he gets romantically entangled with Isabella (Gong Li), the Chinese-Cuban wife of an arms and drugs trafficker. The intensity of this case pushes Crockett and Tubbs out onto the edge where identity and fabrication become blurred, where cop and player become one--especially for Crockett in his romance with Isabella and for Tubbs in the provocation of an assault on those he loves. Working deeply undercover is dangerous and alluring...especially when Crockett and Tubbs go where their badges don't count...
For more about Miami Vice and the Miami Vice Blu-ray release, see Miami Vice Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on September 3, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Michael Mann (I)
Writer: Michael Mann (I)
Starring: Colin Farrell (I), Jamie Foxx, Li Gong, Naomie Harris, Ciarán Hinds, Justin Theroux
» See full cast & crew
Miami Vice Blu-ray Review
It's 1986 all over again... or, is it?
Reviewed by Ben Williams, September 3, 2008
Back in the mid-eighties, not a week would go by when my Dad and I didn't find the time to camp out in front of the trusty old Trinitron to watch the latest adventures of our favorite television characters, Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. "Miami Vice" was a cultural phenomenon at the time - - no one had ever seen anything like it. The show managed to combine the kinetic visual flair of a music video, cutting edge music from the top of the charts and a gritty portrayal of the lives of undercover cops. "Miami Vice" also never shied away from having a little fun as the show often poked fun at itself and the pastel vision of Miami it had spawned. "Miami Vice" also first introduced me to the work of Michael Mann, a director who I have considered a personal favorite for quite some time. When Mann announced his long anticipated film version of the series, I was quite excited, to say the least. Miami Vice is an altogether different beast from the original show, but much of the soul of the original is still present.
Sonny Crockett (Collin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) are two of Miami's hardest working undercover cops. They live in a world of deep cover, where their own personal identities have been abandoned in favor of new personae that give them instant credibility in the ruthless drug-smuggling underworld. When an informant and friend of the duo is killed by viscous band of neo-nazi drug dealers, they will have to go even deeper under cover to get to the root of this new and deadly gang. Only by infiltrating the highest levels of the cartel that supplies these neo-nazis will they be able to put a stop to their murder spree while also exacting revenge for their friend's death.
What I love about Micahel Mann's films is how he grounds his extraordinary stories in realism. Everything about Miami Vice feels lived in and real. His approach to the handling of firearms, procedure and tactics is always meticulously researched. That's no different here, of course. Miami Vice is, in reality, a very compelling analysis of how illegal drugs are imported into the United States. No detail has been spared, from the techniques used to run drugs in speedboats at night to how planes conceal their identity from radar with unique flying techniques. It's almost a complete lesson in how to go about being a smuggler. There much more to the story, however, as both Crockett and Tubbs juggle the fear and confusion that accompanies being too deeply undercover. Both men struggle with balancing their lives. Crockett seems to get too far into his character and truly embodies his smuggling persona, while Tubbs lives in constant fear of reprisals from drug lords against his family. The film always delivers an intense and palpable sense of dread in all that transpires. Where Mann shows himself as a true master is in how he balances an almost dizzying array of information and presents it in an understandable yet not watered-down fashion.
I've read a lot of complaints that much of the film is hard to understand with whispered dialog and rushed delivery. I agree that this is sometimes the case, but I do believe that this stylistic choice reinforces the urgency of the film. Much of what takes places is presented as being a life or death situation and I never doubted the performances in that respect. Both Farrell and Foxx are good in taking on roles that had previously been made famous by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. Fittingly, neither actor attempts to re-create their character in the mold of the 80s original. Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs are, for the sake of this film, entirely new characters who just happen to have some of the same traits as their 1980s counterparts. For those looking for speedboat races, fast cars and tons of guns, you won't be disappointed. Crockett still drives a Ferrari, races speedboats and there is enough firepower present in Miami Vice to overthrow a small country.
With his screen adaptation of Miami Vice, Director Michael Mann has brought an updated and infinitely more powerful version of his 80s classic to your home theater. I've seen the movie a number of times now, and it never seems to get old. There is a wealth of interesting information in the film and the replay value is excellent. In addition, this Blu-ray release offers the film's extended cut which features a slew of extra scenes and a completely new opening sequence. In comparing the two versions, I firmly believe that this extended cut makes Miami Vice a much better film. It's much more fluid and allows a bit more time for character development. In addition, many of the movie's action set-pieces are more fleshed-out. Miami Vice is highly recommended.
Miami Vice Blu-ray, Video Quality
Miami Vice is presented on Blu-ray in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 using the VC-1 compression codec. Much has been made of the visual look at this movie and complaints have echoed across just about every internet forum where Miami Vice has been mentioned. Michael Mann and cinematographer Dion Bebee shot the movie entirely on HD video, much like Mann's prior film Collateral. The outrage that has erupted over Miami Vice seems to stem from its noisy and gritty look. Indeed, it is a messy looking movie. Noise is extremely prevalent throughout the image, especially scenes that take place in darkened rooms and at night. Those types of scenes make up about 90 percent of the movie. Colors are also desaturated and the entire film has an almost monochromatic feel to it. Yes, Miami Vice looks terrible, but it's supposed to. Anyone who saw the feature theatrically probably noticed the visual look of the film. This is not an instance where a bad encode has been thrust upon the public. In fact, I'm of the opinion that this Blu-ray release of Miami Vice is extremely accurate to the theatrical presentation.
There is an almost endless list of digital artifacts present in Miami Vice. Obviously, noise is the primary cause of all the complaints while jaggies and strange color timing also add fuel to the fire. Of course, this is all intentional in Miami Vice so this is somewhat of a critic-proof transfer. Any critique of the look of the movie would have to be aimed at Mann and Bebee and that's something I'm not willing to do since I actually enjoy the unique look of this picture. One can certainly say that there aren't any other films in recent memory that share Miami Vice's distinctive look.
Miami Vice Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal brings Miami Vice to Blu-ray with a sensational DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. To say that this is an explosive track would be the understatement of the year. Again, I appreciate Universal's commitment to delivering each and every one of their Blu-ray releases with a DTS lossless track. The previous DVD version of Miami Vice was problematic in a number of areas. Dialog was often difficult to understand and much of the soundtrack devolved into a muddy mess. That's not the case here as dialog is much clearer and the picture's many action sequences are delivered with a clarity and precision that is truly staggering.
Perhaps most impressive is the outstanding bass response of this track. Take for example, a scene near the beginning of the film where a car full of FBI agents is mowed down by .50 calibre machine guns. Every crackle, pop and explosion is felt throughout the room with an almost gut-busting intensity. Speedboats in Miami Vice growl as though they are racing through your living room. Everything about this track is visceral and completely involving. My normal listening level of -8 from reference was far too loud for Miami Vice and I ended up listening to the movie at a considerably lower volume. Directional effects are also equally impressive with an abundance of three dimensional pans and precise surround imaging. Miami Vice scores as one of the finest Blu-ray audio experiences of the year. Highly Recommended!
Miami Vice Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
- Audio Commentary - Being huge fan of Michael Mann's work, I was thrilled at the prospect of a full 140 minute commentary from one of my favorite directors. He definitely doesn't disappoint, either. Mann dives into many stories of the troubled production process of making Miami Vice. Mann and his crew apparently encountered real drug lords during the shoot that made for some tense moments during filming. Mann also explains each difference between this Blu-ray's extended cut and what had been released theatrically. This is essential stuff for fans of Michael Mann and Miami Vice.
- "Miami Vice Undercover" - (22 Minutes) - A relatively run of the mill featurette that dives into the process of teaching each of the actors the techniques for properly using a firearm and following police procedure. Mann excels at this kind of thing and this feature shows us how he achieves the realism that his films so often achieve.
- Featurettes - Made up of two short documentaries, these featurettes focus on locations around Miami and the production process that the film went through. Mann's attention to detail is once again highlighted.
- "Behind the Scenes" - (13 Minutes) These three features focus on three separate set pieces from Miami Vice and their respective filming techniques. Don't expect much depth though as these tend to be a little on the lightweight side.
- Tech Specs / GPS System - Universal continues to offer some interesting if useless features on their Blu-ray releases. This strange feature allows the viewer to follow cars, boats and planes on an on-screen map as the action unfolds in the main frame. For those of you who like to have your movies spoiled while you are in the midst of watching them, this one is for you.
- Picture-in-Picture - This PiP commentary track mines quite a bit of material from the special features found elsewhere on the disc. Still, there are some insightful details regarding the production that are exclusive to this track and I was, at the very least, quite entertained with all of the trivia and interesting anecdotes presented.
- Cast Bios & Production Photos - Essentially, this is a glamorized trivia track that also provides casting information along with behind the scenes production photos. Interesting stuff!
Miami Vice Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As a life-long Miami Vice fan, I was absolutely thrilled with the cinematic leap that Michael Mann took to bring some of my favorite characters to the big screen. Crockett and Tubbs have never been better, in my opinion. As a film, Miami Vice succeeds by blending an in-depth examination of the process of drug smuggling with truly action packed shoot-em-up adventure. I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff and Miami Vice sits proudly beside other Mann classics like Heat and Collateral. In the video department, Miami Vice has caused a bit of controversy with its rough-around-the-edges video style and noisy picture. I found it to be a virtual carbon copy of what I had experienced theatrically. On the audio side, Miami Vice is a powerful experience with thunderous bass and head spinning surround action. I'm thrilled to finally own Miami Vice on Blu-ray and any fan of this kind of entertainment likely will feel the same. Highly Recommended!
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