| The Red Right Hand
I'll be honest, I'm not the most polite critic around. I'm brash, rude and blunt. I use my reviews as a medium to swear and complain loudly and I'm damn proud of it. With this in mind, I'm going to take a few minutes to address something that most of us (we, the movie-going public) have had to tolerate for years. That guy; the obese, malodorous, loud, food-stuffing, oaf who sits in the centre of the cinema and howls with laughter at almost everything, shouting 'Oh no, he didn't!' If you're reading this, scratching your head, saying to yourself, "I've never seen that guy" ... it's you. The only reason I brought this up is because I had to suffer that at my Miami Vice screening and I was worried it would have jaded my views of the film; luckily it didn't, the film was fairly pants without the aid of Senor El Muncho. Essentially, Miami Vice is attempting to pull off what De Palma did for The Untouchables - take a successful, yet dated, small-screen franchise and reinvent it in a new light. Unfortunately things haven't gone according to plan. I'm not a fan of the 80's TV series, probably due to the fact that it was first aired the year I was born but from what I can gather the only similarities with the show and this new adaptation (directed by Michael Mann - one of the writer/producers) are as follows:
- the two lead detectives' skin colours and names
- stylish clothing and cars
- it's in Miami
...and that's about it. Mann's recent success with the 'Collateral experiment' (shooting the whole thing in LA with handheld digital cameras). The look was grainy, realistic and interesting - proving that you don't need big production values to produce a good film; especially with a script and cast as mind blowing as that one.
After an FBI drug deal goes sour Detectives Sonny Crocket [Farrell] and Ricardo Tubbs [Foxx] are federally deputised and sent under cover to find out who's responsible and from which department information has been leaked. This becomes a bit of a back-burner as Crocket gets emotionally swept up and involved with one of South America's prime dealer's wife, Isabella [Gong]. The parts are fairly well written but there's little for the actors to get into; I would say this is a limited role for the likes of Oscar Winner Jamie Foxx, but he agreed to film Stealth, which proves he can probably lower himself to anything. Almost everyone at the screening hated Colin Farrell's performance, for the most part, so did I. With a mix of 'I've smoked since I was 9' gruff vocals, his incredibly motionless hair and sweating through every shirt available to him, he began to really grate. To be honest, Farrell and Foxx do what they can with their roles and pull it all off to a rather credible level - that is, until you start to compare them to their small-screen predecessors.
At 134 minutes, this film is far too long. Unlike many long features, it doesn't feel as though it should end midway but on reflection, so many scenes were poorly paced and sometimes completely irrelevant. On top of that the plot is extremely confused, almost as if Mann wrote a TV episode, realised it was far too short for a feature so cut the line of progression and added gap elements that made it confused and frustrating. I'm not saying it's a confusing story (although it may be for most) but it's a very confused plot - of the events that unfold only a few are properly addressed and resolved. A perfect example would be discovering the 'leak' that sends our two leads working undercover, which is sort of summarised in a brief e-mail then handed off to another department - which seems like a realistic element, but there's no resolution as you never witness who the informant is, if he was caught and/or punished. Mann's use of realism is, however, a high point (a comedic high), from the blam-blam violence to the (confusing-as-hell) narc cop lingo to the poorly lit love scenes; actually the sex is a bit of a problem - I'm a man, therefore a naturally born closet-pervert but the sex in this film is so repetitive and blatantly unnecessary that it becomes tired, dull and embarrassing. Unfortunately Vice is littered with these little flaws that sully the general feeling of the film. The best way to view this whole thing is with a complete sense of disregard for the original show but the one question on my mind as I walked to my car is one that's been plaguing me for a while now; it's been etched into my forehead so that as I look at myself in the mirror* I can't help but think about it - When is American cinema going to relive it's heyday of originality, depth and substance? When will we see something new? Is there some sort of drought? Has the Hollywood well run dry? Why are we stuck with a barrage of re-makes? I'm sure we'll all find out... soon enough.
4th August 2006
The Scene To Look Out For:
The stuff in Cuba. Why? I'll tell you why! Mann's a fool! A FOOL! As casting would have it, they may have been permitted to film in Cuba - I assume you all know that Cuba and the US aren't exactly the best of friends.... actually, other than the UK, are the US best of friends with anyone? - Farrell's Irish, Gong's Chinese, it would have worked out! But no, this extensive work could not be trusted to a 2nd AD so they moved it from Cuba... to the Dominican Republic, which -like their cigars- is nice but not the real thing.
If I was forced to choose I would say Li Gong. Although she was far superior as Matsumomo in Memoirs Of A Geisha, her performance was mostly heartfelt but ultimately it's a case of choosing the lesser of two evils.
"Listen to me, asshole! I do not want that motherfucker near me! You send Isabella... you want your dope? You send Isabella?"
In A Few Words:
"Lacking a lot of what made the original series popular, this new take on Miami Vice will doubtlessly fade with time"
(*critics are given special mirrors - they're great, they have large shiny borders that state 'You Are Better Than Everyone Therefore You Have A Right To Tell Them Where They Went Wrong')