More noise than signal

Miami Vice

If anyone had a right to exhume Miami Vice from its oh-so-very Eighties grave, it was Michael Mann. While the thought of this hardly filled my heart with joy and bitter personal experience has taught us that this is not a year to hope for greatness in films, his track record alone was cause for mild optimism. I mean, it’s Michael Mann, right?

The identity of the style is never in doubt, this looks every inch the Mann film. The rest of it seems more in line with what you’d expect of Michael Bay. Leaving aside Colin Farrell’s ludicrous hair choices, the pressing problems with Vice comes from a script that’s either spending as much time trying to be as obfusticated as possible, throwing around baffling law enforcement lingo for little purpose, or succumbing to a sort of attention deficit disorder.

Plot strands are followed for a while, then ignored, sometimes briefly nodded to later on, more often not. With Crockett and Tubbs initially out to find the source of a leak in a multi-disciplinary task force, this is narrowed down to ‘someone’ from ‘everyone’ by the end of the film, which has meandered off into infiltrating a drug baron’s outfit and Crockett having an affair with said baron’s woman, all the while stopping frequently to show lovely, pretty, interminably dull shots of powerboats skipping over the waves or jets banking against a cloudy sky, with the audience sitting wondering exactly when the pace is about to pick up.

Sadly that’s left to the final ten minutes, and by the time lead salads start flying I’d forgotten who or what I was supposed to be caring about. There’s never any of the tension and foreboding that was built up so effectively in Collateral, or any number of previous Mann films, and while it’s never less than a competent film it’s never anything more than that ether.