October 05, 2014
I watched Ranger613's (formerly RangerKris) previous edit of the Miami Vice Crockett/Tubbs origin story and it was a great, moody cruise back through the '80s. So I was looking forward to the "sequel" very much. Well, like most sequels, it's not quite as good as the original, but this one was definitely a worthy entry in the series and an enjoyable watch.
This story focuses more on the new police Lieutenant, Castillo, than on our previous stars. It would be kind of like if you show up to Iron Man 2, but by halfway through it turns into a War Machine story with Iron Man supporting. Hey, no problem, I love Don Cheadle. However, he doesn't pop in that role quite as much as Robert Downey Jr. does as Iron Man. We have the same situation here where Edward James Olmos just doesn't carry the show quite like Don Johnson as Crockett. Sometimes he's got an awesome intensity! .... and then sometimes he kind of just throws lines away. By the time he's performing in the reboot of Battlestar Galactica, Olmos has got the "gruff, quiet, intelligent, tough guy" thing nailed. However, he's still a bit uneven here, and you can imagine Clint Eastwood, for example, turning the same script and scenes into some really gripping moments. As it is, some are great (including a surprisingly good fight scene!), but I just noticed how Crockett and Tubbs popped in every scene they were in, and the Lieutenant kind of suffers by comparison. Even the guest star hooker in the beginning just nails all her scenes!
Okay, so that aside, the story is pretty interesting. I very much enjoyed how Ranger started with a quick scene of Crockett and Tubbs on the job before getting into the main story. It was also really interesting to see how they sort of tangentially slid into the main events by just following the dirt. The downside is that it really seemed like these events took place over a longer period of time (several episodes) but were kind of jammed together without any breathing room. At a point in the early-middle of the film, it felt like "and then this scene needs to happen, then that needs to happen, then the next event needs to happen..." The chain of events could've used some scenes in between to honor the passage of time, and even better if there were some classic Miami Vice moments of characters just moodily doing mundane things to music while they mull over the situation, like driving their cars or staring out over the water.
This all comes to a head when we have a conversation with Crockett, Tubbs, and Castillo where they're basically risking their careers for Castillo and tell him "hey, you've had our back plenty of times". But we haven't seen that...he was the new Lieutenant just 35 minutes ago! A few montages and/or subplots like in the beginning of the film would help to make that relationship feel earned, and to give the big events more weight when they do come up. At 90 minutes, the film could've packed in 20-25 minutes of subplot and not lost any momentum, imho.
The end result of this is that it tells a cool new adventure for fans of the original (series or fanedit), but I'm pretty sure with this one that it wouldn't hold a lot of interest for a non-80's fan. It's missing a lot of the atmosphere that made the show so addictive...the melodrama and brooding, the stylistic touches that felt like the show was a display of fashion and lifestyles as much as a narrative. With just a few tweaks, I think this could capture that flashy romanticism, but right now it just feels like '80s TV. Great '80s TV, but TV nonetheless. Part of that is probably the source quality (which looks like old broadcast quality, not a dvd) and part is style. I did really enjoy the audio tweaks that Ranger made, though, with some clever movements of dialogue over scenes, and a great replacement end credit song.
TLDR: This is a fine follow-up for fans of the original, and it moves at a pretty good pace. It did what every 2nd film should do: left me eager to see #3!