Michael Mann makes art from his hip 80’s TV series about the man with no socks.
Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) and Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell, who actually wears socks) are Miami cops impersonating drug couriers. They are trying to break a drug racket whilst looking cool and making out with their ladies. Unfortunately, one of the beauties is Isabella (Gong Li), the bad guy’s girl.
New York Times: “Mr. Mann transforms what is essentially a long, fairly predictable cop-show episode into a dazzling (and sometimes daft) Wagnerian spectacle.”
The Scotsman: “A frustratingly inert affair – a long and talky excursion that fails to engage the viewer from the outset.”
From first to last frame this film looks fantastic. Whether it’s the spectacular cloud formations, which part to reveal our heroes’ personal plane or the illuminated computer screens on their speedboats as they chase through the water by moonlight, beauty is what Michael Mann is seeking.
If you’ve never wanted to pilot a speedboat through tropical seas then you will when you see this.
The camerawork is truly inventive, with tight tracking shots ruthlessly honing in on a close up whilst the action carries on around it in soft focus. As in art house movies, Mann refuses to always show us the obvious shot. He is creating a mood as much as telling a story.
All this is great, the work of a master in fact. So why is the film also quite dull for a lot of its 132 minutes?
It’s not Gong Li’s fault. She is one of the most interesting stars to hit the screens in recent years. It is true that her English is not always very clear but regardless of that she manages to show a whole gamut of emotions from haughty disdain to erotic abandon.
The problem lies with Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell who are required to be manly buddies in that silent grunting tradition handed down from the apes. Foxx manages to rise above the restrictions with his natural charisma but the same cannot be said for the ridiculously mustached and increasingly chubby-faced Colin Farrell who is quite simply the dullest thing on the screen.
Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Gong Li