Many of us who grew up in the 80s have a special affection for a series entitled ‘Miami Corruption’, premiered in the middle of that decade on our beloved television. When I was 15 or 16 years old, I was absolutely captivated by the adventures of the two narcotics agents Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. Week after week I was glued to the television totally hooked on the series. I was always struck by the air of sophisticated design that he had, the look of Crockett in his civilian suit Adolfo Dominguez and his worn out sneakers, although my favorite character was probably Lieutenant Castillo, magnificently played by Edward James Olmos, who by the way could not play him in this movie because he was committed to the television series ‘Battlestar Galactica’, a remake of another mythical series of late 70’s, although it was broadcast in our country in the early 80’s and I didn’t miss a single episode. The series created by Anthony Yerkovich and produced by Michael Mann was a resounding audience success wherever it premiered and remained on the air from 1984 to 1990
Now Michael Mann, who more than once confessed that the last year of the series was an ordeal, has decided with his peculiar style to adapt it to the big screen, and he has done it wonderfully, because he has really gone from making an adaptation in the literal sense of the term, and has given us two hours of good cinema regardless of whether we knew the series or not. What’s more, Mann may well take it for granted, which can be seen as a mistake. In my opinion, it is an intelligent and well-displayed move. Mann once again shows how much he knows about this trade, offering us a magnificent job of staging in all aspects, with a story probably too elementary, but perfectly narrated and without any cracks. The film takes as a reference the extraordinary episode entitled ‘Smuggler’s Blues’ in which our two protagonists traveled to Colombia posing as drug traffickers. In the movie it is more or less the same, although a little more stretched. Sonny and Ricardo pose as drug traffickers to gain the trust of Arcángel de Jesús Montoya, a very important criminal who owns an entire empire thanks to drug trafficking and other illegal merchandise.
The truth, and as I said before, is that the argument is too elementary, too simple, without any complication or surprise in its evolution. But that does not mean that it is perfectly narrated, with an excellent rhythm, although it is necessary to recognize a small downturn from the moment in which the film focuses more on the character of Sonny Crockett and his relationship with a woman. That would be the only one but of an otherwise exemplary movie.
Exemplary for being a new sample of the mastery of Michael Mann to shoot really fascinating scenes. His visual style is captivating and achieves sequences of incredible beauty that make us gawk at the screen. These sequences can range from a dusk, a boat ride, a plane flight or a shooting. Those sections show the best Mann filming it all in a big way without any prejudice. Regarding the action sequences, say that they are excellent, and for the record that there are less than expected in a movie of these characteristics, but the ones that exist take away the hiccups. Attention to the plane seen from inside a car in which we witness how a human body is destroyed by bullet holes. Surprising.
The movie gets straight to the point without introducing characters or anything, it’s not necessary. We will get to know them as the film progresses, and it does not matter too much how and how the film is conceived. Small notes are enough for us to meet our two protagonists. In that aspect, it is as if Mann had the intention of doing one more episode of the series. One of those many episodes in which we already know the central guidelines of the story and we do not need to be told more about some characters that we know too well. It’s a risky gamble on Mann’s part, but personally I think it works out perfectly. More than an adaptation in itself, it is a complement. Something similar to what Rob bowman made in the feature film ‘File X’. But better, much better.
And it is that Mann’s feature film is a fascinating journey through a whole way of making cinema no less fascinating. As in ‘Collateral’ Mann once again uses high definition video cameras to shoot night scenes and the results are excellent. Attention to any of the protagonists’ car rides or the final shootout. Mann puts you right into the action, almost always by placing himself on the neck of a character and making you feel all kinds of sensations, either thanks to his refined visual style or the magnificent use of sound, to which we should add the wonderful use of the music that Mr. Mann makes in all his movies. Always taking care of even the smallest detail, music is a very important element for him, and he manages to create true poetry, a mixture of image and music. Although I personally miss that the wonderful Lisa Gerrard collaborates with him again as she did in ‘El Dilema’.
Regarding the actors to say that all are quite well. Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx hit it off perfectly, but don’t expect it to be anything like what they could do Mel Gibson and Danny glover in any of the deliveries of ‘Lethal Weapon’. Mann is not Donner and the tone is very different, his intention is not to make a buddy movie. Barry Shabaka Henry makes a convincing Lieutenant Castillo, although he could have been more on the scene. Gong Li plays the girl in the movie, so to speak, although there are more female characters. The actress is sensational in all aspects. With an impressive 40 years, he fills the entire screen and is capable of making anyone fall in love (I already am). Luis Tosar, on the recommendation of Javier Bardem, plays the bad guy in the movie and the truth is that he fulfills perfectly, managing at some point to intimidate the staff with his sole look, and completely departing from the antics that Jordi Molla He made in ‘Two Rebel Cops 2’.
A very good film, totally respectful of the television series and a first-rate entertainment far above swashbuckling adventures aboard pirate ships. It does not reach the height of ‘Heat’ (with which it bears more than one resemblance), ‘The dilemma’ and ‘Collateral’, the three masterpieces of its author, but of course it is a product served with great dignity and professionalism by a man who knows how to treat the public, since we are facing an adult action thriller that shuns all kinds of nonsense such as easy jokes, funny character or stupid and contradictory script twists, clichés that Mann escapes from in a sober and seemingly typical film. A complete enjoyment.
In Blogdecine | Criticism of ‘Corruption in Miami’ by Beatriz Pérez-Moreno