29 July 2006

Two years ago, when Collateral first came out, I blogged that it was the work of an incredibly ambitious director "working on a studiously modest scale," and that I vaguely wished that he had "tackled something of more epic dimensions." Judging from Miami Vice, it seems that Michael Mann, clearly a faithful reader of this blog, took my advice to heart. The New York Times review helpfully points out that the total operating budget for the Miami police department last year was approximately $50 million less than the production costs of Miami Vice. Oddly enough, with all the money being spent on speedboats and gunfights and explosions, it appears that the producers could only afford one beard, which was duly divided between Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell. (Or, as Haiwen puts it, their facial hair is "complementary.")

In any case, it's clear that Miami Vice marks the conclusion of a certain stage in Michael Mann's career. It's impossible to imagine how he could ever advance beyond this movie, which takes all of his obsessions with violence, video, and men at work and blows them to smithereens. The result may not be the best movie I've seen this year, but it's certainly the most fascinating. It takes coolness to the level of a pathology. In this version, Crockett and Tubbs barely even notice one another, and seem weirdly disengaged from the task at hand. At times, the effect can be alienating, especially in the movie's opening scenes, which seem deliberately designed to confuse and frustrate the audience. Then again, there are times (when Colin Farrell takes Gong Li on a speedboat cruise with Moby blaring in the background, for example) when we're closer to the throbbing heart of pulp than any movie has taken us in years. It's all completely gratuitous, of course. But I have a hunch that I'll be seeing it again.

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