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Miami Vice (Mill Creek Entertainment) Steelbook Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Miami Vice (Mill Creek Entertainment) Steelbook Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
    Released on: May 16th, 2023.
    Director: Michael Mann
    Cast: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Gong Li, Naomi Harris
    Year: 2006
    Purchase From Amazon

    Miami Vice – Movie Review:

    Who better than Michael Mann, the creator of the original television series, to reinvent the eighties cop classic Miami Vice for the big screen? Throw a pair of talented actors like Colin Ferrell and Jamie Foxx in to play the leads, shoot the entire thing on location, and you've got yourself a sure fire hit, right? A combination like that just can't miss!

    Apparently not.

    The film begins when the Joint-Inter-Agency-Task-Force has had their undercover drug investigation compromised - it seems someone talked, they just aren't entirely sure who, and now a couple of agents, an informant and his family members lay dead. The Feds now need someone to move in and take over where they left off. Enter two Miami detectives, James Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx). These two tough cops find themselves having to go deep undercover to infiltrate a smuggling ring based around a series of offshore boat races assuming the names Sonny Burnett and Rico Cooper.

    Once they meet the right people and make the right connections, they get 'an in' with the drug smuggling operation lead by the Archangel De Jesus Montoya-Londono (LuisTosar) and his foxy female counterpart, Isabella (Gong Li), who acts as his financial advisor. Soon, the two cops find themselves in a hot spot when Crockett starts to fall for Isabella, which blurs the line between duty and personal want. Complicating matters further, someone launches an attack against Tubbs' family.

    Mann must have found himself in a bit of a bind on this project in a sense. Should he completely update the franchise to make it work in the modern day or set it back in the eighties and play it for camp value? His decision to go with the first option might have made sense on paper but on the other hand, it made for a film that is really just Miami Vice in name only. The garish colors, fashions and music that dated the original television series have been swept aside in favor of a gritty and bleak look at the world of cops and robbers. This might make for more realistic viewing, but the fact of the matter is that it really doesn't feel like Miami Vice, instead it plays off as any other cop film could. There's nothing here to set it apart from the herd and the picture, while reasonably entertaining, is completely generic.

    What works in the film's favor are Foxx and Farrell in the leads. They're both good actors and they do a decent job with the script and with making the characters their own. While they don't have quite the same chemistry that Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas shared in the television series, at least they deliver believable performances here. The supporting cast is passable, with Gong Li standing out as an interesting choice for the love interest and handling her character's conflicted loyalty well. Ultimately, however, this is a pretty disposable film. It's worth a watch on a rainy afternoon when you've got nothing better to do, as it's well made, well-acted, and moderately entertaining, but it doesn't feel like Miami Vice and honestly, half the problem is that it doesn't even try to.

    Note: This Blu-ray release contains both the 'unrated' version of the film and the R-rated theatrical cut. This director's cut adds roughly seven minutes of material that was trimmed from the theatrical version, including a boat race in the opening, and a fair bit more character development and interaction across the film.

    Miami Vice – Blu-ray Review:

    Mill Creek presents both versions of Miami Vice in a 1080p AVC encoded 2.40.1 widescreen transfer on a BD-50 disc. Mann shot much of the film using handheld HD cameras to give it a very specific look and that looks transfers to this release, like it or not. The movie has been given a very gritty and grainy texture resulting in a very noisy looking picture. While there isn't any print damage to speak of in a literal sense, there's been quite a bit of post-production tweaking to the picture to give it a very hot or baked look that isn't as pretty as you might want it to be. That said, this is how the film looked in theaters, how it looked on DVD, and how it looked on HD-DVD and this is a well-authored disc that has plenty of detail and that does present the film as the director wanted it to be seen. It just happens to be a rather unattractive looking film in general.

    Both cuts of the movie on this release get a DTS-HD Master Audio 48 kHz/24-bit 5.1 mix. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. The lossless track on this release is great, delivering plenty of boom when it's called for but handling the quieter scenes just as well. Surrounds are used well during the action scenes for gun shots and directional effects while during the less intense scenes delivering ambient noise and atmosphere while bass response is tight and lively. There are no problems with hiss or distortion to report and the levels are well balanced throughout. John Murphy's score has some noticeable buoyancy to it and it plays around all five channels nicely, but there are a few scenes where the dialogue is a little garbled and lost under the music and sound effects.

    Mill Creek has carried over a bunch of the supplements from the previous releases of the movie starting with the commentary track from writer/director Michael Mann available over the director's cut version of the movie. This track is actually more interesting than the movie itself in many ways as it lets us into Mann's head quite a bit and it's interesting to hear him basically take him through his own personal creative process and explain his thoughts on making this picture. He talks about casting and stunts and locations and effects work but he also explains what was changed for the unrated version of the movie in addition to sharing a few interesting stories about the film's unusually intense production.

    Up next is Miami Vice Undercover, a twenty-two minute documentary that explores how Colin Ferrall and Jamie Foxx trained for their roles as undercover cops working the mean streets of Miami. Basically they rode around with a couple of real life police officers and learned from them what it takes to do the job. There are some interesting stories here and this is actually a featurette well worth watching.

    The second featurette, Miami & Beyond: Shooting On Location is, as you could probably guess, a look at the locations used for the film. Mann wanted to use actual locations to add authenticity to his film and he got his wish as this documentary shows us by giving us a quick look at where different parts of this film were shot.

    The third featurette is Visualizing Miami Vice, and it explores how Mann shot the film using handheld HD cameras and why he wanted to use that method to give the film a very specific look. Three shorter behind the scenes segments are also included, Gun Training (which takes a look at the weapons used in the film and how the actors learned to use them), Haitian Hotel Camera Blocking (which is a neat look at how Mann shot that specific scene) and Mojo Race (again, a look at how he directed that specific scene in the film).

    There are also a few shorter behind the scenes featurettes here, the first of which is Gun Training which spends three minutes going over what went into getting the performers properly prepped to handle firearms for their roles in the film. Haitian Hotel Camera Blocking spends three minutes showing how the cameras were setup to shoot the scene in question and why different setups from different angles were used. Mojo Race is a four minute piece that shows off how the boat race scene was shot and staged.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc is a theatrical trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection options.

    Note that this Walmart exclusive release comes packaged with some really nice steelbook packaging with an acetate overlay that fits overtop of it that ties into the key art on the front panel.

    Miami Vice - The Final Word:

    While the film itself doesn't ever quite work as well as it should, there's no doubt that Universal has done a nice job on the Blu-ray release and those who did enjoy Michael Mann's re-imagining of Miami Vice should be quite pleased with their efforts – and it all comes in an admittedly very nice steelbook package.



    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Miami Vice Blu-ray screen caps!

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