(2006) dir. Michael Mann
Michael Mann is one of those film buffs’ filmmakers, but has largely sat on the outside of my interest. I mean, I have appreciated a couple of his films, Maneater (1986) and Heat (1995), and other than acknowledging style and intelligence, just haven’t gotten into him the way that so many others do. He’s always struck me as a fairly man’s man kind of director, choosing works that have macho heroes and primarily strong male roles. I say that now, particularly, because Miami Vice fully fits into that mind-set.
With its sharp, stylish, action shots of high-speed racing boats and the Miami coastline that open the film, to the tough, brotherly, yet emotionally protected fraternity between Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx, to the even fairly manly sex scenes that both actors appear in with their female partners, it’s all very much a guy world…not just guys, but “men”. Fetishized considerably as well, are the accouterments of the man, the male version of “accessories”: guns, cars, boats, sunglasses, wrist-watches. I am not enough of a specialist in any of these areas to detail specifically what types of accouterments they have here, but they are all top-of-the-line, faster-than-fast, slicker-than-slick types of things that I have to think that a certain spectrum of the male audience is simply drooling over.
The film itself is essentially a genre film, with a convoluted, but not all that original story about an undercover investigation into drug importers and killers. While the base story is fairly standard-issue, the film stays relatively sharp most of the time. But as has been speculated on before, the only reason that this is called Miami Vice is probably just the marketing angle that got the film made.
The film’s weakest point is the relationship between Farrell’s character and Gong Li’s tough, businesslike moll. It’s long and it’s tedious. But I will say that Gong Li’s character may have been the strongest thing about the movie, more from her performance than what she had to work with.
Still, in a manly world of take-downs and high-speed, slick as hell everything, women are just accouterments themselves. And emotional distance is the definition of “cool”.