Directed by Michael Mann.
Starring Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Li Gong, Naomie Harris, Ciarán Hinds, Justin Theroux, Barry Shabaka Henley, Luis Tosar, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Eddie Marsan and John Ortiz.
Two Miami Vice detectives go undercover to bring down drug traffickers.
“When I first read Tony Yerkovich’s screenplay for the original Miami Vice [NBC, 1984 to 1989] pilot, my first instinct was to make this as a feature film,” revealed moviemaker Michael Mann who decided to revisit the idea. “It's all Jamie's [Foxx] fault because he talked me into this, starting in 2002, at [Mohammad] Ali's birthday party.” Mann was creatively inspired by the Emmy-winning television show. “If I took you through the first two years' episodes, which I consider to be the real core of Miami Vice, these are exactly the kind of stories that were being told. They were poignant, [and] emotional; they weren't happy endings.” What was really enticing about the project was the opportunity to explore a particular aspect of police work. “This is a story about what happens when you go deep undercover.” The native of Chicago observed, “There’s an elevated experience in doing it, and that’s what really motivates them. It’s that moment when you know they believe you 100 percent.” The deception comes with a price. “There was a line in the pilot where a woman asks [Sonny] Crockett, ‘Do you sometimes forget who you are?’ And he says, ‘Darlin’, sometimes I remember who I am.’”
The cast went through extensive training to make sure they had the proper responses when dealing with undercover situations. “We’re trying to take an audience and put them there, as if it’s happening,” stated Michael Mann. “Jamie [Foxx] and Colin [Farrell] did an incredible amount of work in pre-production so that they really can do everything they do.” Foxx and Farrell were trained with live ammunition on the SWAT ranges in Miami so to create a sense of spontaneity and believability. “The series occupies its place in cultural history, for better and for worse,” remarked Mann. “In a postmodern globalized world, there is no criminal organization locked to a geographical place producing one commodity, like cocaine. Now, if you’re running a transnational criminal organization, you’re a master of tubing, down which anything can move: pirated software, frozen chickens out of Russia, [and] Ecstasy from Holland.” As for why he kept the same title despite the differences between the small and big screen versions, the filmmaker stated, “It's the spirit of it. It's the core of it. It's who these people are. At the core of Crockett is Crockett. At the core of Tubbs is Tubbs, but they're re-imagined in 2006, in a different world, in a different place, [and] in a different Miami.”
“You should be dropped into their lives and be taken away by it,” said Michael Mann who shot a deleted boat scene intended to be the opening of the action crime drama. “To me, an action scene only has legitimacy if it’s completely dramatic.” While principle photography was taking place in the Colonial District of Santo Domingo, six sharp bangs were heard. ''I knew straight away they were gunshots,'' recalled Colin Farrell. ''I'm thinking there are 20 people down there to kidnap us and I'm going to be in a basement somewhere with a hood over my head, eating porridge and water for the next week.'' Michael Mann had planned to film the climatic gun battle in Ciudad del Este in Paraguay which is on the U.S. State Department watch list for terrorism. ''There was a list,” said Stephen Donehoo who was given the task of orchestrating the filming in the notorious South American location. “Two hundred and thirty-six line items of weapons, ammunition, and explosives for that scene. The State Department bureaucracy was not in a big hurry to hand out export permits for a bunch of AK-47s into the area known for its relationship with Hamas and Hezbollah.” The shooting never happened in Paraguay as the $135 million production shifted back to Miami, much to relief of Jamie Foxx and Universal Pictures. ''Did anyone tell you what happened the day we got back?'' asked Mann. ''We were shooting in a shipyard and about two hours in, all of a sudden, I hear bang bang bang bang! I'm like, what the f--- is going on here? Five real undercover Miami-Dade narcs had gotten into a shootout in a trailer park five blocks away. We had to stop everything because it wasn't safe.''
“If something wasn't adverse, I don't think anyone on this crew knew how to handle it,” said Michael Mann whose production troubles began to overshadow the picture. ''Michael is brilliant, but [people started to] view him as Kurtz from Apocalypse Now , out there in Miami with severed heads on stakes,'' stated actor Barry Shabaka Henley (Collateral). ''I couldn't believe the stories I heard when I got back to Los Angeles. Mann had shot someone. The AD had shot someone. Foxx had crashed a plane. I was on [break from the movie] and ran into someone who worked on it and I asked, ‘What the hell is going on [down there]?’” Miami Vice earned $164 million worldwide; it was nominated for Choice Summer Movie: Drama/Action-Adventure at the Teen Choice Awards and contended for Best Film Editing at the Satellite Awards. At the BET Awards, Jamie Foxx was nominated for Best Actor, in acknowledgement of his work in Miami Vice and Stealth (2005); his co-star Colin Farrell competed for Best Actor in Lead Role in a Feature Film at the Irish Film and Television Awards. Mann praised his two leading men. “I'm real proud of their work, and the benefit of it is what you see on screen."
Miami Vice trailer:
Mann Handled: A Michael Mann Profile
A Michael Mann Retrospective
Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada.