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Reliving The Miami Vice

Taking a look back at Michael Mann’s film Miami Vice.



One of the most popular remakes arguably during the 2000s was Miami Vice. Director Michael Mann, who was executive producer for the original television series, took the old premise of the two detectives of the Miami-Dade Police Department and modernized it for audiences in the new millennium. Not only did he cast two high profile and very well known actors in the roles of James Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs. Taking Colin Farrell, fresh off of his performances as Captain John Smith in The New World and as Alexander the Great in Alexander and putting him with the powerhouse star himself, Oscar Winner Jamie Foxx, it was pretty obvious the movie would be a success.

The story of the film is not so much different than the television series except in that it might be a tad more modern than the previous television series would be for today’s day in age. You, of course, have the two detectives, Crockett and Tubbs, going undercover to take down various offenders. This film focuses on the very real drug trade from Central and South America into the United States. Such actions by drug traffickers and eventually drug dealers have led to the addiction epidemic that has been harming the lives of many Americans. It’s also quite costly with many of them looking for drug detox programs. It’s the actions of Crockett and Tubbs that are very important here.

Many argue about the US war on drugs but these two detectives are working to make Miami a more livable environment for those that are children. If there are drug problems, parents could be less willing to raise their children there or reside in the area. They don’t want to one day have to find drug detox programs for their children. Yet, such operations to take down drug traffickers are quite complex once the two detectives go undercover. They have to work with their FBI contact and make sure they do not get caught. Their loved ones could suffer otherwise. Whether it be Crockett’s love affair with Isabella, played by Gong Li, or Tubbs’ romance with Detective Trudy Joplin (Naomie Harris), things may happen to them resulting from the actions of these two undercover detectives.

What’s notable about Mann’s film, however, is that both these women are truly formidable figures that you would not wish to mess with. Isabella is heavily involved in the drug trade and a dangerous person while Joplin is a trained detective, just as skilled as Crockett or Tubbs. It creates a nice connection to our two heroes as they go off through dangerous waters (quite literally when Crockett is in a boat on the water) to take down the drug traffickers. The most perilous love affair is Crockett’s with Isabella.

She works for the drug cartels while he is an undercover police detective. Neither one of them should be together in the film but they are drawn to one another. Mann is quite well known for putting two people together who are in love and in quite a bit of danger. He’s done this in Public Enemies, Collateral, and Blackhat. He portrays this type of love as being very in the moment and a difficult one to see ever come to fruition. It works out in Collateral and Blackhat but not exactly in this film or Public Enemies, where the characters are either separated by the law or the forces of life and death.

Mann’s Miami Vice also reveals the financial aspects of the whole drug trafficking organization with Jose Yero, who is handling the money many of the times throughout the film and directing Crockett and Tubbs when he thinks they are drug smugglers. It’s interesting to see just how the drug cartels operate in moving the drugs into Miami through different ways and utilizing money differently.

Miami Vice, both as a film and a television series, is even more relevant today than it has ever been. Seeing federal agents or police detectives going undercover to take these drug traffickers down is something we often see on the news. The war on drugs does not seem to be ending anytime soon, and the services Crockett and Tubbs can provide to society as police detectives will continue to be just as important as it ever has been. These two characters probably resemble many different law enforcement officers doing the same work every day. It is through them our society continues to remain safe.

Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery  and the entertainment industry.

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