Monday, February 26, 2007

Miami Vice

After the Oscars, I sobered up and sat down to Miami Vice.

It was nowhere near as good as it could have been and nowhere near as bad as I expected. In fact, I think it's overall a tad better than the year's Best Picture.

Basically, aside from Naomie Harris's bare behind, which is quite lovely, and a couple of graphic sex scenes, it's just a long episode of Miami Vice, right down to taking no time at all to explain who Crockett, Tubbs, Castillo, Joplin, Calabrese, Zito or Switek are.

Unlike many of my geek brethren, I'm not much of a fan of director Michael Mann. In fact, I think Thief remains easily his best work as a filmmaker.

The negatives are obvious, starting with the bizarre and distracting casting of Gong Li as a Cuban! I'm sure this has been mentioned somewhere, but coming in unaware, it's so confusing as to be a distraction from any positive feelings her performance may otherwise have engendered. She's a Chinese woman. Her face is Chinese. Her accent is Chinese. Her body language is Chinese. She is utterly, unambiguously Chinese. If Mann had some bizarre hope that her acting skills would rise above this somehow, they were in vain.

Mann's once sharp ear for music has also clearly eluded him. The Audioslave songs may be solid on their own, but don't serve the movie well. The cover of "In the Air Tonight" by Nonpoint is atrocious, and worse atrociously bland. Considered along with the reference to former recurring guest Glenn Frey, Tubbs suggests they "Take it to the limit, one more time", serves only to remind how much sharper his instincts on these things once were.

Despite much hype to the contrary, the leads do find themselves in the pastels appropriate to the locale and only a couple of times dress in the dark, heavy clothes one wears in cooler climates. They're pretty solid in their roles, as well, although they lack a certain buddy chemistry between them that Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas had on the series.

Overall, however, it was amusing enough as a big Hollywood action movie. The cinematography, by Dion Beebe, is generally well above most modern Hollywood movies, although the climactic action sequence, which I'm assuming was supposed to feel like cinéma vérité, merely ends up looking like something out of a very cheaply shot direct to video actioner.

I can't say I didn't enjoy it.

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