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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 July 2006, 07:41 GMT 08:41 UK
Making Miami Vice cool again
By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Director Michael Mann and the stars of the Miami Vice film reveal how they tried to bring the 1980s TV show that inspired it up to date.

Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell
Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell co-star in the Miami Vice remake
With its sleek cars, MTV aesthetic and cutting-edge fashions, the Miami Vice TV series was the epitome of '80s cool.

Thanks to actors Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, rolled-up sleeves, Ray-Ban shades and shoes without socks became synonymous with that glitzy decade.

As soon as those famous flamingos appeared on screen to the strains of Jan Hammer's synthesiser-heavy theme tune, fans knew they were in for glossy entertainment more akin to a pop video than a conventional cop drama.

Surprisingly, though, creator Michael Mann chose to steer clear of the show's celebrated iconography when he came to make a film version for a 21st Century audience.

"We didn't want to remake what we made in 1984," he said in London on Friday. "The exciting thing for me was to locate this in 2006."

'Cool and sexy'

Actor Jamie Foxx, who takes on Thomas' role as Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs, admits the original show left a lasting impression.

"America moves a lot slower than what you see on TV, so when you saw those guys handling guns and looking good it was hot," he said.

"The music, the women, the cars, the clothes - it defined what being cool and sexy was."

For Mann, however, the intention was to take what worked in the original and "plant it in the present".

"For me it was Miami Vice for real, and for right now. That's what made it intriguing."

Philip Michael Thomas and Don Johnson in Miami Vice
Thomas (left) and Johnson played the original Tubbs and Crockett
Another key factor, the director continues, was the additional authenticity that could be brought to the on-screen violence.

"As an R-rated feature, we can explore some of the things we couldn't in television."

'Glum and glummer'

However, while the film contains graphic mayhem and an extended shoot-out, Mann says he was keen to ensure the bloodshed was not gratuitous.

"An action scene only has legitimacy if it's completely dramatic. I try to make it as real and believable as I can."

"It can't just be one action scene after another," agrees Colin Farrell, who steps into Johnson's shoes as Detective 'Sonny' Crockett. "They have to be emotionally connected."

So far, though, not everyone has been won over by the film's serious tone and marked absence of humour.

"Mann's update of his classic series is a glum and glummer proposition," writes the Hollywood Reporter's critic.

Industry newspaper Variety, meanwhile, asks whether "young guys who were infants when the show expired in 1989 will queue up" for the remake.

Feeling trepidation

Irish actor Farrell admits feeling trepidation over how the film will fare at the box office.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann's other films include Heat, The Insider and Collateral
"I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't nervous," he told reporters. "A lot of people invested their energy and time in this movie, so you want people to see it.

"I've had films before where people haven't gone to see them, and it hurts."

"You want everyone to check it out and be successful," adds Foxx. "That's what this business is about."

The Pirates of the Caribbean sequel apart, several of this summer's major releases have underperformed - and some pundits have predicted Miami Vice, which cost a reported $125m (67m) to produce, may follow suit.

With this in mind, how did Mann feel when actor Samuel L Jackson arrived at his film's European premiere on Thursday wearing a T-shirt promoting his own action thriller, Snakes on a Plane?

"It's all in good spirit," he told the BBC News website with a smile. "We all want each other's movies to do well."

Miami Vice is released in the UK on 4 August.

Red carpet for Miami Vice stars
28 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
Farrell confronted by TV intruder
21 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
In pictures: Miami Vice premiere
21 Jul 06 |  In Pictures
Michael Mann's dark world
17 Sep 04 |  Entertainment

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