Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"MIami Vice" - Less than the Sum of Its Parts

Because I'm a FanBoiiiiii I went to see "Vice" on opening night, but before I get to the movie, a few things first. If you have a choice, do not see movies at Regal Cinemas - there must have been 20 minutes of commericals before the previews. (6 previews = good. However only two of the films looked definitely interesting. Two were of the resurgent "everything is crap and is getting worse" genre. I liked this one better when it was called Remember the Hoosier Wildcats when Coach Carter sent them down Glory Road so they can be Breaking Away. At least, I think that was the title. I can't even remember the sixth film, so clearly the trailer worked...) (Update: GAH! The 6th Sensepreview? I see dead people (with snake bites in their necks. On a M**********n' Plane!)

Anyway, as for the film, there was much to like. Michael Mann obviously fell in love with shooting digitally for "Collateral" and the same style works well here. So much of the film is at night, or shot in degrees of darkness, that the depth in detail supplied by digital filming is absolutely vital. The film looks fantastic. And Mann has always been great about shooting large, sprawling set-pieces, from the finale of "Last of the Mohicans" to the bank heist in "Heat." Again, no exceptions here. Similarly, the score is big and sweeping, more good stuff.

Going along with the look, the tone of the movie is almost mordantly dark. In retrospect, this isn't surprising, as behind the pastels and eye-candy, the TV show was most noted for being 'grittier' than what came before it. With "NYPD Blue" and "The Shield", that bar has been raised so that the original show is almost "Powderpuff Girls" by comparison.

The usual Achilles heel of any sort of cop movie, substandard baddies, isn't the problem either. They are menancing, mysterious, ruthless and plentiful enough for the final shootout (oops...SPOILER!. Like you didn't know there was a shootout...) to last a while.

So why, then, does the movie not totally work? Well for one, pacing. It's not too slow, it's just a little off. For once, Mann's work in the editing room doesn't seem to have equaled that produced on the set - the love scenes are nice, but they seem either extraneous or simply too long and still - in a different genre of movie they'd work fine, but here they impede rather than advance the story.

But the biggest reason is the casting of Gong Li as the pivotal female character. First, the screen chemistry between her and Colin Farrel is largely non-existant. Second, it's more than slightly confusing for this character to be Chinese-Cuban-Columbian (or whatever), accent issues aside. (And the accent issue is huge - it's hard to suspend disbelief about a relationship when you can't understand what one party is saying.) These combine to make this whole plot point labored, and ultimately unbelievable. Which wouldn't normally matter in a procedural, but Mann spends so much time on it that it is unavoidable.

All that said, this is still a quality film, just not up there with Mann's best. Penalty points for Jamie Foxx being made almost superflous to Collin Farrell's indescribably fantastic hair.

Pooh's View: B-

1 comment:

Icepick said...

That's POWERpuff Girls! And Bubbles goes up to eleven.