October 05, 2014
So this is the third film in Ranger613's (formerly RangerKris) Miami Vice Trilogy. The first one focused on Crockett and Tubbs, though it's mostly Tubbs' "origin story" as a vice cop. The second film shifts focus to their new police lieutenant, Castillo. Ostensibly, this third film would focus mostly on Crockett, but it actually ends up being more about 2 supporting characters who are connected to Crockett. More on that later. If you were interested in watching this on its own, you could probably catch up pretty easily and enjoy it. No need to watch the previous ones. You might even like it better that way.
Technical stuff: the "movie" is directed pretty well! Director Rob Cohen cut his teeth here. He later went on to make some pretty solid films, like the first Fast & the Furious movie, and Dragon - The Bruce Lee Story. The production budget appears pretty consistent throughout, and though the 80's fashion and music has reached an uncomfortable level of cheese here (Ted Nugent guest stars!), the whole thing doesn't feel TOO cheap. Video quality is not great, like a VHS tape, but the editing of said video is tight, so you get used to it. The stuff that works really well is the visual fades between scenes, and the way songs overlap and feed into new scenes, running in the background and gradually building. Some of that was probably in the original series, but some must be to the credit of the fan-editor. I loved it!
Ok, back to the narrative. At 1 hour and 18 minutes, this feels too short to have enough weight as a film. Actually, the dual narratives pieced together here are pretty solid and feel developed, and it doesn't feel TOO episode-of-the-week, but it still needed another subplot to give breathing room and time to develop the characters more. The biggest weakness is that the story ends up being more about how Crockett interacts in other people's personal journeys...not really his own journey. As a finale of a trilogy, it's just not a personal enough story. The romance is mostly just another case, and in my opinion, ending on that story is the wrong move. The more personal plotline with more emotional weight is edited to end first, and even though there are great visual bookends to the film, it doesn't feel tonally significant. This is more of a "Miami Vice 2.5" than a "Miami Vice III". I also think freeze-frame endings scream "cheesy TV", and am just personally not a fan.
I know one of these episodes is a fan-favorite, and this works great as a 'long episode' of the show. "Evan"s plot gets surprisingly serious...but a little too late for this as a film. With the short running time, it's half over before you care much about anyone here. Cool shots of Sonny with his Ray-Bans on, brooding in white suits on the beach... makes you really want to see an epic, personal story for him. This just wasn't it. A truly ambitious fan-edit would be to try to salvage a movie from the very uneven but very personal Season 4... Sonny gets duped by a rival dealer, gets married to Sheena Easton, suffers a huge personal tragedy, and ends up in the hospital! Fertile ground for a great film.
All told, this does work well as a standalone cop story, or a worthy entry in the series. If you enjoyed the previous film (Score), I'd recommend this as well.