Tuesday, July 25, 2006

APB: Miami Vice

I'm waiting for the rogues at Termite Art to post about Michael Mann's Miami Vice—I saw one of the TArtistes at the screening yesterday—but as a preventive measure, I want to advise Dizzyheads to give this one a wide berth. I liked Mann's Collateral, despite some plot holes; it had a terrific look and some amazing set pieces, one of which in particular I flash back to any time I find myself in a Koreatown nightclub (approximately once every three years and against my will). MV, oddly, looks pretty terrible most of the time; the dialogue is atrocious; and an immense so what? factor hanging over the proceedings. Mann wants to inflate his slim smuggling-bust story into Heat-like proportions, but it doesn't have Pacino/De Niro (or even Val Kilmer).

What it does have is . . . Gong Li.

Why the Gongster was cast is a mystery—but for the 15-20 minutes she's on screen, the film is weirdly entertaining for all the wrong reasons. As a Cuban of Chinese extraction, she's able to take Colin Farrell back to that forbidden island so they can drink mojitos, dance awkwardly, make googly eyes, and wear plush bathrobes. She is rather completely unconvincing, so that as she reels off her character's biography (mother a translator in Angola, etc.), you can visualize the script, its Courier font swimming across the screen. At one point it actually sounds like she's relating wisdom found in a fortune cookie ("Time is luck..."). Her romance with Colin Farrell is distended, completely unconvincing from the get-go. (Spoiler alert: Their ultimate parting of ways will leave not a wet eye in the house.) Her whole performance is a misfire, but of such epic proportions that it makes the more "believable" events and characters surrounding her seem drained of energy.

Another respite from the dullness: a reel during which the sound became distractingly muddy, as if only one side of the audio was working. This happened during Team Vice's raid of a white supremacist trailer/bunker. Directions whispered into headsets came out as zzhhhzz or as nothing at all. Film Project #3 would be a repurposed Miami Vice with player piano music and old-timey title cards.

UPDATE: Did Justin Theroux's comments about MV in this rollicking interview have anything to do with his absence from the screen? (I didn't even realize he was in it, though keener eyes glimpsed him in one minor scene.)


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