“I can feel it, coming in the air tonight…”

So with my spouse not all that interested in seeing it, I took in Miami Vice this afternoon. I went in with preconceived notions, thanks to hearing about/reading reviews and opinions from a couple of friends. I knew to not expect much character development, I knew to expect to not be able to understand every single word from the actors (they mumble a bit, especially in the early parts of the film), and I expected some decent action and good cinematography. After all, it’s a Michael Mann film.
Possible spoilers ahead. Do not click through to continue if you don’t want to know anything regarding the plot.

Having gone in to the viewing with the above expectations, or lack thereof, I have to say I enjoyed the movie. In my book it’s certainly not as good as Heat or The Last of the Mohicans, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. There were some slow bits in the beginning, but it picked up and held a good pace the rest of the way.I thought they did a good job with the entire cast, from the headliners to the supporters. The only character that I thought was really too much of a characticature was that of Jose Yero. I thought Elizabeth Rodriguez as Gina was an excellent choice; she’s hot, handles a gun, knows her job, and still has a bit of mothering instinct. She does get one of the best lines of the film, when a baddie tells her to go ahead and shoot him; the detonator in his hand will still fire and they’ll all die in an explosion. Gina retorts:

That’s not what happens. What will happen is… what will happen is I will put a round at twenty-seven hundred feet per second into the medulla at the base of your brain. And you will be dead from the neck down before your body knows it. Your finger won’t even twitch. Only you get dead. So tell me, sport, do you believe that?
And then, just as the baddie begins to respond, she pulls the trigger.
Coming up in discussion with a friend who also saw the movie, I do wonder if more could have been done with Gong Li’s Isabella. Her backstory was pretty weak. Just because her mother, working as a translator, died when she was 16, she couldn’t go back to China, or wherever her nearest relatives might have been? My best friend is a Chinese-American, and I’ve learned a lot about how close-knit the family units can be, even the extended portions. I’m not saying it couldn’t have happened, but I do think it’s a bit of a stretch for a seventeen year-old Chinese girl to end up working for a South American drug lord. I did like her character’s overall attitude.
The same friend noted that it seemed like Tubbs didn’t have much to do throughout most of the film. Makes you wonder why Foxx got top billing. (I know, I know, he’s an Oscar winner now, blah, blah, blah…) Maybe that’s why there was the Trudy-getting-kidnapped storyline, so he would have something to do.
The locations were great. There’s a shot in one part of the film, taken from above, of waterfall after waterfall after waterfall, on both sides, cascading down in to a river/lake, and it is breathtaking. I’m guessing this is in the Dominican Republic, where a good portion of the movie was shot. Seeing those falls would certainly be a dream vacation, although I’m sure it’s not the Dominican Republic, they’re in a South American country where they like to abduct Americans for ransom. (Having read notes on the filming, the Dominican Republic’s not so hot, either.)
I also like how Mann seems to be one of the few directors in Hollywood who can get gunfire to sound like gunfire. To be more precise, he knows how to get different weapons to make different sounds. He did this in Heat, with the big shootout in the middle of downtown LA, and he followed it up well with the dockside battle in this film.
It seems like most directors don’t care that a 9mm pistol is going to sound a lot different than a 5.56mm or 7.62mm assault rifle, or that those two rifles alone will have distinct sounds of their own. As I discussed with the above-mentioned friend, it’s as if they have access to so many recorded gunfire sounds, and don’t care to make the proper distinctions. This may sound like quibbling, but it makes a huge difference in the realism of the film. Granted, I seriously doubt I’ve seen every movie that features a Barrett .50, but I believe this one is the first that gets the sound of one firing right, not to mention showing what sort of damage a .50 caliber round will do to a typical vehicle.
I’ll grant you that Miami Vice isn’t as good as Heat or Collateral, but it was enjoyable. Provided Mann did it, and used the same or mostly the same cast, I wouldn’t mind there being a sequel.