Michael Mann revisits the iconic ‘80s TV show he helmed with this humorless, straight-for-the-jugular film adaptation, which puts Colin Farrell’s Crockett and Jamie Foxx’s Tubbs deep undercover against a drug cartel. In his audio commentary, the director terms the DVD the “more extensive” cut—completed weeks after the release of the theatrical version—rather than the “extended” or “director’s” cut. In any case, this unrated version runs six minutes longer and, presumably, includes some violent moments not seen theatrically.
Mann’s commentary is a mix of story notes and technical how-to, but is at its best when he reveals the true workings and economics of the modern drug cartel. Several short featurettes include some raw but unspectacular on-set footage and a segment on the previsualization process. The best is a piece on the undercover trade, which features some former DEA agents who consulted on the film. Farrell relates how two of them “punk’d” him when he tagged along on a coke deal designed to go bad. “It was very, very, very scary,” says the actor. “I couldn’t sleep that night.”
As you’d expect from Mann and the Miami Vice franchise, this is a great-looking film, with postcard shots of not only Miami and Biscayne Bay, but of more exotic, pastel-tinged Caribbean locales. The 2.40:1 anamorphic picture doesn’t fail the subject matter, serving up good picture detail and deep blacks when called for. The audio is jarringly lifelike, and every channel of the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is put to use throughout the movie, most notably during a drug transaction shootout and a race-boat sequence.
After all, what’s Miami Vice without fast boats?