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Updating Miami Vice

Published July 25, 2006 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Universal Pictures.
Miami Vice Poster Miami Vice Poster
The new Miami Vice movie is a straight up cop drama. There’s no nostalgic kitsch, nor is there an obscure postmodern interpretation of it. “We never conceived of it as a derivative,” said director Michael Mann. “It’s 2006, it’s Miami Vice for real, right now, and, at it’s core, it has an emotional, overt way of telling its story, and it takes place in the alluring, perfumed reality of Miami, in which you’ve got this layer of things that are very sensuous and beautiful, and underneath it, there’s stuff that’s very, very dangerous. So, in that sense, it has an independent origin. I don’t think people will be sitting there and comparing the two. The two are co-equal. The series occupies its place in cultural history, for better and for worse, and this is 2006. It’s a new day.”

Miami Vice Updated


Being so serious may make the movie seem like a very different Miami Vice, but then there have been greater departures in cinema adaptations. “You saw Starsky and Hutch, but it wasn’t anything like [the original],” said Jamie Foxx. “You’re not taking Miami Vice, the series. You’re taking the spirit of that and you’re doing the movie.”

Even when Don Johnson joked about lending Colin Farrell his original jock strap, Farrell went back to Mann’s vision. “I’m still waiting, but it never arrived, the jock strap,” Farrell said. “It might have added something interesting to the character. ‘Why is he always itching his balls?’ ‘He’s wearing Don Johnson’s jock strap.’ But, no, Miami Vice, the TV show, was the original genesis for this piece, but we approached it from, as Michael said, a very contemporary standpoint, and it’s its own entity, really.”

Actually, the movie became what Mann originally envisioned for the series. “Somebody reminded me of a line in the pilot,” Mann said. “There was a line in the pilot where a woman says to Crockett, ‘Do you sometimes forget who you are?’ And, he says, ‘Darlin’, sometimes I remember who I am.’ And that is the core of that character, and the volatility of Tubbs and the way he would rise to anger. One episode, he gets furious because somebody shoots at him with a machine gun because machine guns scare him, and when he gets scared, he gets really angry. That spirit is the same in these characters. These characters, in that sense, in their hearts and their souls and what they reach down into when they really have to rise to the occasion, are identical. So, the center of these people is the same.”



Perhaps looking back at a show 20 years Miami Vice only became camp in hindsight,” said Farrell. “At the time, it was a really cutting edge show. The subject matter was really dark - drugs, prostitution, so on and so forth - with Crockett’s backstory, with his two children and his wife. Some very reality-based situations were dealt with very honestly, for the time, and as you said, this has just been elevated to today’s modern age. I saw a twinkle in Jamie’s eye when I was watching it.”

Even for Foxx though, updating it was necessary. “You can’t keep re-hashing it,” said Foxx. “It’s like watching the dunk contest today. You can’t go in and do the Dr. J dunk anymore because you’re kind of past that, so if you come from the free-throw line, you’ve seen it. But, if you’re wearing Dr. J’s jersey, and you bounce it off the backboard from the back, and then you dunk it, you’ve got the spirit of Dr. J and you changed it.”

Miami Vice comes to theatres this Friday, July 28th.

For the trailers, posters, full synopsis and more movie info, head over to the Miami Vice Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.


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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Universal Pictures.
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