Movies By Mike: Miami Vice Cs Collateral

Over the course of these past three summers, Michael Mann has written and directed two highly stylized blockbusters: “Collateral” and “Miami Vice.” Both films possessed those “summertime” qualities of big stunts and nonstop-action while attempting to be more urbane and intellectual than your run-of-the-mill high-budget summer movies. Mann, the acclaimed director of “Heat” and the Oscar-nominated “Ali,” has taken a hiatus from the pursuit of gold trophies for his Academy Award collection. While both films aimed at achieving a fun yet sophisticated tone, only one succeeded. COLLATERAL: Mann’s 2004 film is a thriller set in Los Angeles from dusk ‘til dawn. It’s about an assassin named Vincent (Tom Cruise) hiring the street-savvy cab driver named Max (Jamie Foxx) to drive him around town as he completes his five contracts before 6:00 a.m. Max discovers Vincent’s true profession as the first victim comes crashing down onto his taxi’s roof. Max, understandably, freaks out. The film then proceeds to chronicle the struggle between the two characters. The tug-of-war, coupled with Michael Mann’s characteristically energetic style, provides an immense adrenaline rush. Tom Cruise, despite his recent antics, still proves that he is a top-notch actor, he plays an outstanding Vincent: a character lacking any moral compass. His only concern is completing his hits as efficiently as possible. Vincent’s amorality contrasts with Max’s compassion, portrayed with grace by Jamie Foxx. You feel for both these characters and their conflicting motives as Max’s cab ride from hell progresses through the dark underworld of LA. All the pieces seem to fit in this stylish thriller. It has action. It has suspense. But most importantly, it has emotion. Emotion that is conspicuously lacking from Michael Mann’s most recent project, called . . . MIAMI VICE: Unfortunately, nothing seems add up in Mann’s second action thriller. Based on a popular TV-series with the same name, “Miami Vice” chronicles the drug world of Miami through the eyes of two undercover cops, Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Foxx again). The pair infiltrates the world of Columbian drug traffickers. Everything after this point becomes the generic baloney we have all seen a million times before: the cops check their chummy personalities to play psychological hardball with the bad guys, as they try to save their loved ones who have been taken hostage, fight the real drug dealers in bloody standoffs, blah blah blah. The plotline is average and forgettable. The only thing worse are the characters. It was rumored that Farrell and Foxx did not get along during shooting, and it really shows: the two barely look at each other! And yes, this is the very same Jamie Foxx aforementioned for his role in “Collateral,” but his “Vice” performance is undercut by his lack of chemistry with Farrell. One saving grace of “Miami Vice” is the typical stylization that Mann infuses into his films. The hip music, beautiful colors, and snappy cinematography thankfully add vibrancy. But because the movie lacks any substance, the great visuals and musical additions become a moot point. I am curious to know just what happened here. How can two movies in the same genre, directed by the same guy, with similar themes and even an overlapping lead actor, differ so greatly in quality? It boggles me, but I truly hope for all of us that Mr. Mann figures out what went wrong in time for his next project.