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The other morning, I took a quick trip down the 170 to the Universal lot, where, I had an early morning screening of the director’s cut of MIAMI VICE set up. My co-writer didn’t see the film in theaters, so for him, this would be the only cut, and I wanted to hear his reaction to it. As we walked from the parking garage to the screening room, we had to pass the EVAN ALMIGHTY stage, and outside, there were cages with lions waiting. Random bit of surreality before I’d even had my morning caffeine.

I’m glad Universal is putting both the theatrical cut and the unrated alternate cut on disc, because I think they’re both worthwhile. I really liked the film when I saw it, and I think this new cut has some interesting alternative choices, but it doesn’t really change my feelings one way or another. It’s just different, and equally as interesting. The film opens now with a boat race in progress. But don’t expect a Tom Cruise movie version of a boat chase. Mann just shoots the business of the race, the details, not playing it for tension, but for mood. It’s beautiful stuff, and there’s a little bit of set-up for the nightclub scene that used to open the film. I don’t think the boat scene really adds anything substantial to the film, but it may set up the “MIAMI VICE vibe” for viewers better than the immediate hard cut into the chaos of the nightclub scene. The boat scene looks like the TV show, but with a modern aesthetic. It connects this film to that show, and then immediately begins to move past it. I know a lot of people have complained that they didn’t enjoy this because “it’s not like the show,” but I don’t think that’s right. I think this is a really canny extension of the show. On that series, I think Crockett and Tubbs were both fairly young, and they try to play like they’re all badass and world weary, but as cutting edge as it was for ‘80s network TV, it was still ‘80s network TV. The show offered up a side order of cheese on a regular basis. What worked was the sort of broken-hearted yearning for a normal life that was a running undercurrent with these undercover guys. Add fifteen years of wear and tear to those characters so that they really are as emotionally threadbare as the TV series pretended, and that’s the movie. That’s why all the emphasis in Mann’s film is placed on moments of bliss stolen in this world of shit. When Crokett (Colin Farrell) and Isabella (Gong Li) run away to Havana for a lost weekend, Mann takes his time with it. He gives it even more room to breathe in the director’s cut, and I like the additions. These two both know that their relationship will not work. It will not end well. I don’t think they have any illusions at all. That’s what makes it so poignant. I think Gong Li’s work is great in the film, and very touching. When she’s conducting business, she plays the hard exterior well, but when she’s alone with Crockett in her home in Cuba and she’s showing him the photo of her mother, she’s so vulnerable, so young. And Mann adds more reaction for her at the end, when she realizes that Crockett’s a cop, really allowing her to play the betrayal. Mann’s also enhanced the relationship between Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) and Trudy (Naomie Harris), adding a note of dread early on. Right after Crocket and Tubbs have that creepy limo meeting with Montoya (Luis Tosar) in that militarized no-cell-signal zone, Tubbs tries his phone again. It suddenly works. He calls home to talk to Trudy and tell her he’s okay. She thanks him for the flowers. What flowers? The flowers you sent. I didn’t send flowers, so you should check the card. HELLO FROM YOUR FRIENDS IN THE SOUTH. Tubbs can still see Montoya’s taillights as he drives away, and he finds out they’ve already reached out to let him know that they know who Trudy is and where she is. You don’t learn much more about Gina (Elizabeth Rodriguez) or Larry Zito (Justin Theroux) or Stan Switek (Domenick Lombardozzi) in the director’s cut. All Mann has done is enhance certain relationships and tighten up a few sequences in subtle ways. The home video transfer of this looks pretty great, but I want to see the HD transfer, which I think is a direct mastering from the source. Exciting stuff. The extras on the disc are nicely produced, but not particularly in-depth. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the feature commentary with Mann yet, but I will as soon as I actually have the finished disc. I know this one divided viewers, but I feel strongly that it got a bum rap. This is a very good film, and although not an improvement over the theatrical cut per se, this unrated edition is well worth your time. Drew McWeeny, Los Angeles

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