It’s the minutiae in Michael Mann’s directing style that supplements the elaborate sequences in his films. Michael Mann tends to his characters’ attributes with assiduous attention. Every single glimpse of a character within a cinematic frame is executed with precision. In Heat (1995), he reveals the lives of law enforcement versus heist thieves with intensity, fully immersing the audience into the underbelly of a criminal underworld in Los Angeles. Mann ingeniously creates heroism with the robbers and villainism with the cops, resulting in a rigid dichotomy between right versus wrong within the audience as we root for both sides. When the curtains close upon the film’s end credits, a great deal of dramatic emotion can and will wash over the viewer, with or without the supplementation of Moby’s “God Moving Over the Face of the Waters” as Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) hold hands in the dark of night behind LAX.
Heat stands among Michael Mann’s renowned films, alongside The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and The Insider (1999). Nonetheless, the American auteur who earned a graduate degree at the London Film School has made at least 3 films that are wholly underrated and overlooked. His most devalued and misjudged picture could arguably be Miami Vice (2006). It’s important to recall that this film was a modernized reinvention of his own ‘80s television show Miami Vice (1984-1989) starring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, which ran on NBC for five seasons. The action/crime reimagination scored a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, garnering an overall misunderstanding of the film in terms of its critical analysis. Miami Vice (2006) has stood the test of time. Revisit this film today, fourteen years after its release, and you’ll find that it has aged like fine wine. Michael Mann scrapped the TV show’s costume design of white linens, magic mints, mauve and baby blues, while replacing them with relaxed fit suits in front of a backdrop of glistening skylines and sparkling stars of night, emulating film grain with digital cameras capturing gritty aesthetics by using the Thomson Viper Film Stream cameras during production.
Upon revisiting Miami Vice in 2020, a viewer will more than likely find themselves lunging into the crime/thriller as Vice Detectives Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) travel from Miami to Cuba and back, as the drama of the story dangerously enhances, causing the interweavement of their personal lives, becoming victims of the graveness involved with their crime fighting as Miami-Dade detectives on a mission for the greater good. Upon the film’s release, many critics argued that Miami Vice lacked deep insight and great depth. The misjudgment behind their hypothesis results from the irrational comparisons being made to Heat. Miami Vice wasn’t meant to display intellectual acuity; Michael Mann would have done so, otherwise. The film represents the lingering feeling of solitude that spawns from the thought of losing a loved one due to the dangerous circumstances created by a detective’s life, and the inevitable solitude a life like crime fighting would bring about within a man’s personal and professional living. These elements are also employed as metaphors for any man or woman who longs for companionship with a mate, but is held back because of professional reasons. Behind the guise of intense action and thunderous shootout scenes, Miami Vice is concerned with conveying the theme of loneliness – and it does a remarkable job both cinematically, and thematically, with mysteriously attractive scenes that are powerful and seductive.
Miami Vice is available for streaming On Demand in high-definition. It grossed $164,231,296 on a $135 million budget. It was distributed by Universal Pictures and was written & directed by Michael Mann.