Turning a Bad Idea into a Good Movie
This may be counterintuitive, because the Miami Vice TV show looks today like a piece of high camp. And I don’t think anybody would say that the show was so consequential that viewers were screaming to the heavens “Bring this to the big screen, I beg you!!!”.
So why am I bullish on Miami Vice, the movie? Three words: writer-director Michael Mann.
Michael Mann is one of my favorite directors. After spending the 80s directing schlock (and writing for several TV series, including Miami Vice), he broke out in the early 90s and has been doing work of remarkably high quality ever since:
Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans is one of my favorite movies — he took James Fenimore Cooper’s novel (which hasn’t aged well) and turned it into a lush, beautiful adventure-romance that’s endlessly watchable. It also has the best soundtrack of any movie I’ve ever seen, period (you should get the CD).
His other work is great too — Heat is a great crime drama, watch it and you’ll get a sense for why I think Mann can make material like Miami Vice work in spite of itself; and The Insider and Collateral are top shelf too. (I liked Ali but found it a bit overlong; it’s good, but it’s not Mann’s best work.)
All of which is why I think Miami Vice will turn out better than it has any right to be. I’m looking forward to it.