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Archive for May 4th, 2009

posterHaving recently seen an old episode of Miami Vice on TV I decided to revisit the 2006 film.  Interestingly the idea for the film came from Jamie Foxx whist filming Ali. The story he tells is of him pitching the idea of a really slick and cool undercover team, he did so describing scenes.  Although Michael Mann has confirmed the idea of making a film based on the 80’s TV show (produced by Mann) came from Foxx his ideas didn’t make it into the final film.  Foxx however did get to play Ricardo Tubbs one of the lead roles.  The other Sonny Crockett is played by Colin Farrell on the recommendation of original Crockett, Don Johnson.  The role of Castillo went to Barry Shabaka Henley after Edward James Olmos who played the part on TV turned it down.

ctWhist working a different case Crockett gets a phone call from an informer they had previously passed on to the FBI.  As this is going on two undercover FBI men are killed in a drugs trade with an Aryan Brotherhood gang.  Realising their department is compromised they bring Crocket and Tubbs in to try and “plug the leak”.  Their way in is to provide transport for a drug cartel from Haiti to Florida.  As they get involved with the Columbian cartel they realise they can take the case further up the chain to the boss Archangel de Jesus Montoya (Luis Tosar).  Obviously things go wrong for dramatic effect leading to a final shootout.  The film has been criticised for a lack of action.  There isn’t even a car chase!  But this isn’t Bad Boys; this is a slick thriller that actually presents are far more realistic impression of undercover police work than the old TV show. 

mojoSo the film does deliver what it set out to with an ultra slick (I keep using that expression, sorry) ultra stylish film just like the main characters.  The original TV series did the same but things have moved on and pandering to fans of the original TV series would have created a parody or a very dated film.  Starsky & Hutch (2004) turned an old TV show into a comedy, it worked for fans of that type of thing but I found it really annoying.  Of course Miami Vice has nods to the original but they are smaller more subtle things; Crocket drives a Ferrari and has an even more ludicrous speed boat than he did in the TV series (A Marine Technology Inc. (MTI) 39 Series offshore catamaran appropriately named Mojo, MTI don’t ferraripublish prices on their website but I did find a second hand one that looks similar for $400,000).  There are quotes that where used in the TV series.  The film also feels like an episode of a TV series (an established one not the beginning) we join a close-knit team on a case.  These aren’t people getting to know each other; they know each others every move and trust each other implicitly.

trudyIt was suggested on its release that the film did not represent Miami, large sections of the film where set outside the city and those that were in the city were often anonymous.  Whilst this is true I don’t feel it detracts from the film.  Again the film avoids the temptation to be nostalgic with the choice of music.  There is no Jan Hammer and although In the Air Tonight that featured prominently in the TV series was used it was a modern cover not the Phil Collins version.  The choice of songs and the score by Organized Noize match the tone of the film pefectly.  My one criticism is that Trudy (Naomie Harris) and Gina (Elizabeth Rodriguez) are under used but then their characters were under used in the original series as well.

ginaThis is a really underrated film, I think due to people’s expectations.  Some people probably went into it expecting a fun nostalgia trip others wanted a high octane all action film.  The people who would appreciate it probably stayed away because they expected these things from it too.  Its problem is finding a comfortable middle ground, it doesn’t have an underlying message to make it a “worthy” Oscar friendly film but it isn’t a dumb mindless action film.  I don’t see there being a sequel to the film, that is a real shame.  As a person who is normally against sequels I really feel this cast has more to give.  The film is a small episode in the lives of the characters an as such there is unlimited scopeli for another film just think of the films like episodes in the TV version.  What I would advise against is a sequel with a new director, that could be a disaster!  My advice is if you haven’t seen Miami Vice rent the DVD and watch it with an open mind.  If you have seen it and didn’t like it give it a second chance.

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Night Train

ntrainA film version of Martin Amis’ 1997 Novel Night train is listed as being in Pre-Production.  An interesting book, at only 150 pages relatively short and written in a direct to the point style described as “US police procedural”.  It makes for a style that readers tend to either love or hate.  The film is set to be directed by Nicolas Roeg (Don’t Look Now & Walkabout) and to star Sigourney Weaver.  Little information about the film has been released but IMDB have given a brief synopsis:

 

“A female Kansas City Police Officer is assigned the task of investigating the brutal killing of the daughter of the Chief of Police.”

 

It is not clear from this how faithful to the book the film will be but the focus of the book is so acute that a tiny change could completely change the theme of the story.  For those who haven’t read the book here is a synopsis:

 

Mike Hoolihan is a female detective and recovering alcoholic.  Set in an unnamed American city the main subject of the book is the Investigation into an apparent and unexpected suicide of Jennifer.  A beautiful young woman with a seemingly perfect life se had no reason to kill herself.  She was also the daughter of Mikes friend, mentor and former boss Tom Rockwell.  No one can accept that Jennifer has killed herself, the obvious answer is that it must have been murder.  The main suspect Jennifer’s lover Trader Faulkner.  As Mike investigates she discovers a train of evidence that isn’t all it seems. 

 

Other casting is only rumours at the moment but include Michael Madson and Nick Nolte.  The title of the book refers to a rhythm and blues instrumental from the1950’s that is mentioned in the book; it will be interesting to see if it features in the film.  This could be a film to look out for towards the end of the year (or early next year here in the UK) not to be confused with the film of the same name by first time director Brian King (writer of the excellent Cypher) also due out later this year. 

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