Saturday, July 29, 2006

I CAN FEEL IT COMING IN THE AIR TONIGHT: Given that Michael Mann's last film, Collateral, experienced a lot of critical and commercial success, despite a plot that relied heavily on a coincidence so improbably it almost ruined the film for me (seriously, he just happened to pick up both Jada Pinkett Smith and Cruise?), he apparently made the voice for Miami Vice--"hey, let's see if I can make a film without any real semblance of a plot!" OK--so there's kind of a plot--two Miami/Dade officers are sent undercover to infiltrate a drug ring in Latin America, and one begins to fall for the big bad guy's moll--and that's it, for 2 hours and 20 minutes. And unlike Collateral, the performances are rather meh--although Foxx gets top billing, he plays second fiddle to Farrell's Sonny Crockett for most of the film. Farrell himself plays second fiddle to his mustache, which is fine if you're Jason Lee on My Name Is Earl, but not so good here.

So, the question about the film comes down whether Mann's directorial style is good enough to support the film. There are moments of great clarity and gorgeous shots (planes and helicopters soaring over Miami, boats zipping across the ocean), and moments of genuine tension (a verbal showdown between Crockett, Tubbs, and a drug lord, and a the penultimate showdown in a trailer park involving Tubbs' girlfriend being strapped to a bomb). The problem is that almost the entire film takes place at night and the shootouts wind up being a bit incoherent as a result, a problem exacerbated by Mann's shooting style. The film has almost no sense of "fun" in it--though there are a few "hell, yeah!" moments, it's all very, very, serious. Finally, Mann's theme (the dangers of living a "double life") seems to me to have been far better explored in recent years by J.J. Abrams (it's unquestionably a theme of both Alias and M:I:III).

Guess we'll have to see if Snakes On A Plane can deliver.

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