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Miami Vice Reviews

Writer-director Michael Mann took the visual road less traveled in this feature-film adaptation of the fabled 1980s TV series, a sleek, stylish crime drama drenched in color and light: Pink hotels, robin's-egg-blue skies and white beaches by day, neon-streaked streetscapes and glittering expanses of windows and water by night. Twenty-first century Vice is a grimmer affair: Gone is the dreamy atmosphere of sun-kissed decadence, replaced by joyless business transactions that are punctuated by short, sharp shocking bursts of violence, and the pastel suits and shorts have been drained to slate, black and gray. The story, by contrast, is right out of the series playbook: Dade County detectives Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) take a call from a desperate snitch (John Hawkes), whose decision to cast his lot with the feds placed him in the crosshairs of white-supremacist dope peddlers, and discover that there's more to the situation than meets the eye. Defying the informant's handler, Agent Fujima (Ciaran Hinds), who has the audacity to think he can use Tubbs and Crockett for his own ends, Crockett and Tubbs follow the money to sharply dressed middleman Jose Yero (John Ortiz), sleek facilitator Isabella (Gong Li) and, finally, dead-eyed overlord Arcangel de Jesus Montoya (Luis Tosar), and come to realize that there's an informant lurking somewhere in the tangle of acronyms (DEA, ATF, FBI et al). The movie begins in media res, with Crockett and Tubbs negotiating a disco inferno in search of a local scumbag (Isaach de Bankole), and quickly sends them pinballing around the globe — Uruguay, Paraguay, Haiti and Cuba — via light planes, fast boats and chic cars. A combination of muddy sound mix and players with heavy accents (particularly Chinese superstar Gong, who seems to have learned her lines phonetically) renders large swaths of dialogue incomprehensible, but the details of what's being said and done don't really matter. What does is the moral tar pit in which Crockett and Tubbs are trapped and the corrosive toll it takes on their souls, which would be more compelling were they not one-dimensional hard-asses with the depth of upscale-men's-store mannequins. Their female coworkers, Trudy (Naomie Harris) and Gina (Elizabeth Rodriguez), fare little better — although, in a departure from series conventions, they don't spend the film undercover as hookers. Mann gives the film a hard, icy sheen, but all that glitters isn't gold.