Michael Mann is a director who seems to take his time making films. Unlike directors such as Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese who direct more often, Mann has only made 10 films over the past 30 years. Although he may not be producing work at the rate of his contemporaries, he is in no way less established or respected in the film industry and if anything it creates more anticipation and excitement when waiting for one of his productions.
Every director has their niche and Mann’s is being able to create suspenseful thrillers without holding back on the action or drama, as well as incorporating interesting characters and great storylines.
Based on the 1980s hit TV show, Michael Mann’s vision of the dangerous drug trafficking underworld in Miami is as far from the cheesy pastel suit, Ray-Ban wearing show as you can get. What does stay the same is the two lead characters, Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Rico Tubbs (Jamie Foxx), who play undercover detectives trying to bring down a South American drug lord Montoya (Luis Tosar).
Naomi Harris and Gong Li also star as the love interests for Crockett and Tubbs. In typical Michael Mann style, the film’s climax comes to a head with a no holds barred shoot out, in which Crockett and Tubbs come out on top. With minimal dialogue and a somewhat flat conclusion, Miami Vice is not thought of as one of Mann’s best films, but for the majority of the film it is still a solid well made thriller.
When you think of Tom Cruise you usually think of a heroic leading man rescuing a damsel in distress. In Mann’s 2004 film, Cruise plays a bad guy called Vincent, a hit man who takes hostage an unsuspecting cab driver, Max Durocher (Jamie Foxx) and forces him drive him around LA while he completes his hit list.
Jamie Foxx was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and it’s easy to see why as we watch the relationship between Max and Vincent develop and change throughout the film’s duration. Shooting Los Angeles from day to night is handled perfectly by Mann and he is able to capture the opposite of what we as an audience imagine the city to be. At times capturing a dark, seedy and eerily quiet LA only adds to the intensity that the film displays, especially when Max finds out that Vincent is on his way to kill someone he knows.
Images courtesy of Collateral and Miami Vice