Bones of the art form: Michael Mann’s Miami Vice

Miami Vice is an action movie with no interest in action. It’s a thriller with no interest in character or plot.  Miami Vice is a distillation of everything that made Michael Mann an auteur. A movie that takes the elements and boils them down to the point where nothing exists any more, then looks through the bones to see what is left over.

Miami Vice understands it’s plot. It doesn’t care if you understand it or not. Cops spout acronyms. Cops speak jargon. They understand each other, they’re cops. We are not cops, so we do not understand. Therefore there is no exposition. They’re cops, we’re observers.

In Heat they stripped Vincent Hanna of his coke habit, here the ‘heroes’ are stripped of any vestige of personality. They’re truly soulless individuals, as empty as the world they populate. Here, cops are cops and they have no other life.

& this world is M.Mann personified. Pastel colours and icy music while vehicles glide past. The heroes look longingly into the oceanic middle distance. Speed boats and planes soar. Cars zip by.

The action scenes are jumbled collages, make of them what you will.

Miami Vice takes the meaningless and turns it into an art form. Here Michael Mann reached the point where making his art is his only interest, regardless of if anyone digs it.

Michael Mann’s art got higher. Or lower.

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