Miami Vice: The Movie
First LookIn Theaters July 28, 2006
The cocaine cowboys of the 80’s are gone, but Miami’s Casablanca allure, the undercover cops and the attitudes of Michael Mann’s culturally influential television series have been enhanced by time in the feature film version of Miami Vice. The roles he helped create of Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs are inhabited by COLIN FARRELL (ALEXANDER, THE NEW WORLD) and Academy Award© winner JAMIE FOXX (RAY, COLLATERAL), who both underwent extensive training and simulations by undercover officers from the DEA, ATF and ICE – people who tread the dangerous world of international trafficking.
MIAMI VICE begins as Crockett and Tubbs learn that a high-level leak has led to the slaughter of undercover federal agents and the murder of an informant friend’s family. Pulled into the case, the two detectives’ investigation takes them straight to the doorstep of vicious killers from the Aryan Brotherhood and a sophisticated network of globalized traffickers protected by world-class security.
Urbane and dead smart, Tubbs lives with Bronx-born intel analyst Trudy, played by British actress Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, Pirates of the Caribbean II and III), as their team works to infiltrate the group responsible for the deaths. Crockett is charismatic and flirtatious, until he encounters the beautiful financial criminal Isabella, played by premiere Chinese actress Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern, Memoirs of a Geisha).
The best undercover identity is oneself with the volume turned up and restraint unplugged. The intensity of this case pushes Crockett and Tubbs out onto the edge where identity and fabrication become blurred, where cop and player become one - especially for Crockett in his romance with Isabella and for Tubbs in the provocation of an assault on those he loves.
Miami Vice, as a large-scale feature film, liberates what is adult, dangerous and alluring about working deeply undercover... especially when Crockett and Tubbs go to where their badges don’t count...
STARRING: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Gong Li, Naomie Harris, Ciaran Hinds
DIRECTOR: Michael Mann
SCREENWRITER: Michael Mann
STUDIO: Universal Pictures
Wild About Movies Grade: B-
Behind The Scenes
"Death is not procedural or casual, not when it’s somebody you know." - Michael Mann
The reasons for returning to Miami Vice are, according to Michael Mann, simply, "attraction and timing."
"It’s the allure of doing undercover work and what happens to you...that was my central interest," says Mann. "When I first read Tony Yerkovich’s screenplay for the original 'Miami Vice' pilot, my instinct was to make this as a feature film. But it had already been committed to NBC as a television series."
Several decades, and countless fans and critical nods for his films later, Mann knew that it was time to fully explore the characters he had painstakingly developed and make a film that "liberates what is adult, dangerous and alluring about working deeply undercover... especially when Crockett and Tubbs go to where their badges don’t count."
Mann welcomed the challenge of uncovering the "bad things that happen in dangerous places" with a feature film. He relates, "As an R-rated feature, we can explore some of the things we couldn’t in television. There was always the sense of some self-imposed restrictions because we were a series. There’s a whole sensual life that’s there-for Crockett and Isabella, for Tubbs and Trudy."
Of utmost importance to the writer/director/producer was his desire to tell the primary arc of these agents’ stories: what happens when operatives go so deep undercover to infiltrate crime syndicates that they struggle to make it back to reality? He feels that’s where the key dramatic opportunities lie...in telling the filmic versions of Crockett and Tubbs’ immersion into danger.
"You really are out on the edge, surviving by your wits," Mann notes. "One of the terms used for it is ’enhanced undercover’...particularly when you are infiltrating a criminal organization that has a lot of counterintelligence resources. You can go too deep-and it happens frequently-and you have to rely on your partner to pull you back from the edge. As Tubbs says to Crockett, ’There’s undercover, and then there’s which way is up?’"
Mann all too well understood that it takes a special kind of individual to work undercover or "U.C." To authoritatively dramatize the reality that Crockett and Tubbs face, one of the first orders of business was to secure expert advice for his script development and production decisions. According to real-life undercover cops and technical consultants on the film, the majority of people who do undercover work grew up at the crossroads of good and evil. That would need to be duly highlighted to make Miami Vice’s world legit.
"Undercover means that you have to assume a different identity," notes one. "You can’t have the mannerisms that you normally have as a law enforcement officer. You have to act, talk and walk like a bad guy. And you have to convince the bad guy that you are not a cop because that’s the first thing they’re gonna look for."
Miami Vice would also offer Mann the chance to spend time exploring the city he helped tattoo on America’s conscience in the ’80s. "The allure of Miami has sustained itself in my imagination," he notes. "The city has a perfumed reality, where things are not exactly what they seem. It’s very attractive, alluring and sensual; it’s also very dangerous."
It is, indeed, a place the filmmaker calls "not the southernmost tip of the United States, but rather the northernmost tip of South America-a banking capital for cash money."
It was vital to Mann that he capture the allure of Miami coupled with its gritty underbelly...his trademark stamp when constructing realism for his films. To capture the extreme stress and drama of real undercover work-living a fabricated identity-he would need to go to lengths to prepare his cast for their roles, and that would include the development of elaborate life histories, realistic simulation of buys and smuggling, and extensive physical and mental training.
Script in hand and experts at the ready, Mann knew it was now time to cast the men and women of his Vice unit... once again.