Reviews & Columns
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info


Miami Vice

Universal // R // December 5, 2006
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Thomas Spurlin | posted December 4, 2006 | E-mail the Author
Miami Vice has undergone a new millennium facelift. Forget the white suits and flared hair of the '80s. This Miami Vice is gritty, sharp-edged material that truly shadows the work of crime film mastermind Michael Mann. It's all here – his signature cinematography, strong characters, and tightly woven script. While the dialogue grips your attention with its lightning quick pace, the intricately confusing plot is equally as cold and heavy as the aesthetic elements of the film. Instead of being cool to behold like Mann's stellar outings with Heat and Collateral, however, Miami Vice taxes the soul and confuses the mind. However, with gripping performances and some moments when the intense story truly shines through the clouds, Miami Vice comes out of the woodwork as a fairly enjoyable, yet frustrating crime caper.

The Film:

Detectives Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Rico Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) are two undercover police officers working through the underbelly of Miami. During one of their higher-profile engagements, a colleague phones in a life-threatened warning to Crockett regarding his involvement in the exposure of several government operatives. After receiving this call, the pair learns of the government's mission, who the target is, and how they can become involved. What ensues is an offer to both Crockett and Tubbs to be yanked into a very high profile drug syndicate that spans numerous continents.

As the pair sinks further into this underworld utilizing their own resources and talents, they begin to weave into the syndicate, gain their trust, and piece together the hierarchy. This hierarchy is much larger than the streets of Miami, however. Along the way, Crockett reaches out to the enemy by growing infatuated with Isabella (Gong Li), a professionally malignant financier that works with the syndicate to strategize and maximize profits. The further ingrained Crockett and Tubbs edge into the operation, the more their personal lives weave into their cause.

Miami Vice has a very strong base. For one, Michael Mann knows how to craft one slick, stylish film. His eye for chilling cinematography, his ear for impeccably fitting aural accompaniment, and his wonderful ability to craft engaging characters set his films apart from the typical crime caper fare. Furthermore, Mann has a way with casting those quality characters with fitting actors. From Jamie Foxx's Tubbs to the fantastic work from John Ortiz as Yero, each character is bestowed life through quality performances. This supporting cast was especially resonant this time around, especially Gong Li and Barry Henley. Farrell, even though a bit rough along the edges, stayed strong and fairly impressive as Crockett. Everything is here for Mann's next high-quality crime film possessing the same weight as his preceding gems.

As enjoyable as the tense performances and the slick cinematography are, the film tends to waver away from the solid core that distinguishes Mann's talents from the rest: heart and soul. Amidst the intricate, confusing storyline, the emotional connection with the characters gets lost. Throughout the course of the film, some connections are made that really do pop out and ignite some warmth. However, they are very few and far between. Watching a Mann film is like waltzing along a high wire trapeze – the story leans heavily towards the criminal portion of a story and, just as faith feels lost, the film leans back over to a heartfelt center by connecting the viewer with the heroes OR the villain. In general, Miami Vice feels lost amidst the complicated storyline and doesn't surface enough above the plot to rejuvenate that warmth. Plus, this film is highly dialogue driven without enough action. While the tension is there, the excitement factor and the passion behind the characters are lacking.

Even through its shortcomings, Miami Vice is a fast-paced, stylish film that's definitely worth a watch. Michael Mann crafts some stellar performances, a delicious pairing of visuals and score, and an interesting, albeit demanding, storyline. Staying strong during both the blindingly-fast dialogue and the demanding storyline will help the film be an enjoyable experience.

The DVD:

The DVD rated here is the Miami Vice Unrated Director's Edition. As Michael Mann states in his Director's Commentary, this "Director's Edition" isn't necessarily just expanded, but also re-edited and fleshed out further. As this reviewer hasn't seen the theatrical edition of Miami Vice, any comparisons between the two are unable to be made at the time.
This Miami Vice: Unrated Director's Edition comes packaged in a glossy slipcase covering a generic keepcase DVD. A simple disc without insert is included.

The Video:

This anamorphic presentation of Miami Vice is very solid. The transfer is intentionally grainy, sharp, cold – and very attractive. Similar to the work done on Collateral, the color palette relies heavily on shades of blues, grays, and other muted colors. Detail and textures were extremely well done. Black levels were handled fairly well, if a little light at times. While the film felt a bit too grainy here and there, this presentation is still very pleasing.

The Audio:

The Dolby 5.1 track included is difficult to categorize. Miami Vice as a film is very dialogue driven. During the course of the film, the film's dialogue seemed inaudible a bit of the time. Voices seemed muffled and difficult to hear at portions of the film. However, the score sounded fantastic. Gunshots and speeding cars sounded extraordinary, while the few explosions during the film felt packed with rich boom. Where the film gets it right with its terrific soundtrack, the DVD also delivers the goods. In short, the audio presentation is very good, but lacking in the dialogue department. English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are available, as is English, Spanish, French, and SDH subtitles.

The Extras:

This Director's Edition of Miami Vice comes with some particularly interesting extras:

A Director's Commentary is included from Michael Mann. Mann is always particularly entertaining in regards to his explanations of his films. The lengths he goes to capture the perfect mood, setting, and other aesthetical elements of his films. His commentary on Miami Vice is no different.

Miami Vice Undercover is a featurette regarding how Farrell and Foxx honed in on their undercover mind frames for the film. As with his other films, Mann demands his cast get a realistic feel on how their characters work by real-time experience. With Miami Vice, Farrell and Foxx conversed with undercover cops involved with an equally high-profile scenario as in this film. The cast also accompanied a crew on a government bust. Through these elements (and a realistic prank played on Farrell involving a training exercise), the process appeared to be fairly interesting.

Miami and Beyond is a featurette on the locations that Michael Mann selected across the globe for Miami Vice. Some of these obscure, yet strangely beautiful locales are very interesting treasures to behold. From the inclimate conditions of Miami's hurricane season to the obscure locations in Uruguay, this series of places crafts a very distinctive look for the picture. The actors all are in awe at how Mann finds these locations, and Mann seems to take pride in his ability to find them.

Visualizing Miami Vice is a featurette on how Michael Mann gave this film (and his other films) such a distinct look. It's interesting to see how he meshes the scenery with artistic elements and camerawork to create such attractiveness. He discusses such elements from what guns he decides to use for the film, all the way to his work with aerial cameras and photography to grab his work.

Three other Behind The Scenes Featurettes are included – Gun Training, Haitian Hotel Camera Blocking, and Mojo Race. While the Haitian Hotel piece is mildly interesting to watch since it involves an intricate location and the actors navigating through the room, the Gun Training and Mojo Race pieces are both pretty entertaining. Gun Training shows all of the primary actors in fairly rigorous automatic weapons training. Any chance to see the actors learning a new craft is a blast. The Mojo race piece is interesting since it talks about how the crew assembled this fully functional speedboat that also integrates camerawork into the mix.

The extras included are pretty tip-top and discuss almost all the gripping elements of the film's creation. While trailers and poster artwork would have been a nice addition, this extras package serves pretty well as an explanatory piece on everything Miami Vice.

Final Thoughts:

As stated before, this is not like the Miami Vice from the '80s. This Miami Vice is sleek, calculated, and extremely hard-edged in regards to the multi-layered drug associations across the board. The characters are, for the majority, engaging, compelling, and portrayed very well from the great cast. While the plot has some coherency issues and the dialogue needs a bit of work, the story is still compelling enough to grasp your attention. Miami Vice comes Recommended from this reviewer as an interesting trip into the world of undercover cops involved in an extremely high profile crime bust.

Thomas Spurlin, Staff Reviewer -- DVDTalk Reviews | Personal Blog/Site
Buy from







E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews

Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links