Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Film Cemetery

Case Study #13

Where we explore the more 
obscure films that bombed

A good film that failed because 
Jamie Foxx is a thundering, egotistical asshat

First things first. No, this isn't an obscure film. But it does fit my other criteria. 

Miami Vice was released in 2006, and was quickly forgotten. Why? Well, it failed an important litmus test - it didn't live up to the anticipated hype and it disappointed fans of the TV show.

I personally enjoyed Miami Vice very much, but I can certainly see why it was panned by critics and audiences. 

Certain films lose points with me with the crap they pull, while others gain points for things that I approve of.

Super cool guys

Miami Vice gained a lot of points for its gritty portrayal of the drug industry - a sort of behind-the-scenes of the biggest and baddest in the drug business. 

It also gets points for the realistic gun battles, the accurate looking police take-downs and the fact that shit didn't blow up. 

Seriously, took a good hard look at the scene where the Aryan brothers shoot an undercover police car with a .50 cal gun. A hole appears in the car, and the interior - as well as the occupants - are torn to shreds. In nearly any other film, the car would have erupted into a 50-foot fireball.

Miami Vice loses points big time, though, for a bogged-down storyline, extremely unbelievable romances, people that are too beautiful and cool to be real, and finally - I can't believe I'm saying this - Gong Li.

More on this crap in a moment....

The films opens with Colin Farrell (Sonny Crockett) and Jamie Foxx (Rico Tubbs) putting together a case against a drug baddie that apparently also deals in trafficking women. 

They are interrupted by the suicide of one of their informants. (played by the awesome John Hawkes)

They are ordered to infiltrate a huge South American drug organization run by Jesus Montoya, and second in command - Jose Yero.

John Ortiz as Yero and Luis Tosar as Montoya

Farrell and Foxx are successful in worming their way in as high-end traffickers. They convince Yero to let them move some drugs, and in the process, Farrell starts up a relationship with Gong Li - who plays Isabella, Montoya's accountant.

Gong Li as Isabella

And this where things start to break down a little bit. You need to be either a well-informed cop or in the lucrative business of cocaine shipping yourself to understand the dialogue spoken between characters. 

Alright, I can deal with that. But we got a lot going on in multiple countries that are sorta hard to follow. 

I'm not going to go into the entire plot, that's been done countless times. I will say that this film was beautifully set up and shot. The camera work is wonderful and the settings are glorious. 

If you want the full story, though, Google it or - better yet - watch the movie. 

No, seriously, these guys are super cool

I don't mind that director Micheal Mann dropped us right into the soup of the story. I can appreciate that. But we, as moviegoers, need to understand what is going on. 

Naomi Harris plays Trudy - Foxx's love interest

There is more bad news. You don't get a sense - not once - that Farrell and Foxx are really partners. This gets worse with their romantic sub-plots, which are unconvincing in the extreme. 

Casting choices are partly to blame for this. 

Look, I loved Gong Li in Memoirs of a Geisha and Curse of the Golden Flower, okay? She's beautiful and she can act - in her home country. 

But it is painfully obvious in Miami Vice that she doesn't speak English.

And here is where we come to Jamie Foxx and his douchiness...

I believe this movie failed due to word of mouth. I am going to break it down into terms that we can all understand. 

To be deemed a financial success, a film needs to earn back its budget domestically - that means here in the U.S. - to be viable. Any money made overseas is icing on the cake, because you can never tell how a flick is going to perform in other markets. 

Miami Vice cost 135 million to make, and earned 63 million domestically. That's a fail no matter how you look at it.

Ullo! I'll be your douche today

And worse...it didn't have to be that way. Michael Mann has the talent, and he had the vision to make Miami Vice awesome. 

But he was undermined by the recently-inflated giant ego of Jamie Foxx.

Foxx, while filming Miami Vice, earned an Oscar for his portrayal of Ray Charles in Ray. It's just my opinion, but Ray was rather by-the-numbers. Foxx can act, however, because he was great in the little-known film, The Kingdom

But at the time of filming in Miami Vice, he turned into a massive jackass - and sorta ruined the film. 

The entire ending had to be changed mainly because of Foxx and his douchy behavior. 

He refused to fly commercially after his Oscar win, forcing the studio to cough up a private jet. Foxx refused to participate in scenes that took place on a boat or airplane. (and there are a lot of such scenes)

Foxx demanded that his salary and billing be upped to match Colin Farrell, and generally treated the film crew very poorly. 

But the final straw? 

On October 24th, 2005, Foxx heard a few gunshots while on the set in the Dominican Republic. He packed his shit and fled, (little baby) never to come back. 

Michael Mann had to rewrite the entire ending, which a lot of people close to the production wasn't near as good as the original. Still, Mann soldiered on.

The Aryan brothers, led by actor Tom Towles, are very scary, so points for that. The way high-end drug business transactions are depicted are fascinating. You do get a feel for the raw power and sheer amount of cash that is at stake.

Overall, Miami Vice is a film you can watch tonight and thoroughly enjoy - even with the flaws.

But like I said....poor casting choices.

And if you do watch it tonight, please thumb your nose at that dumbass Jamie Foxx for me. Thanks.

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