MOVIE REVIEW- Can't wait: Itching to exit Miami, vice

If you watched NBC's three-hour hypefest for the Miami Vice movie, you got a taste of the lack of chemistry between stars Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx. As they did on TV, the guys strike individual poses in the movie, much like Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in Zoolander, always looking cool but never looking like a team of actors or undercover cops.

Perhaps never has there been a buddy movie with so little buddiness between the leads, even if one was an animal or a cartoon character.

The feature takes up where the 1984-89 TV series left off, with that show's executive producer, Michael Mann, writing, producing and directing; but there's no music by Jan Hammer and not even cameos by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas.

Okay, this is the new Miami Vice– I can respect that. In line with most of Mann's recent films, there are no pastels– it's mainly black, white and gray, with a lot of cold, metallic surfaces, both visually and emotionally.

Among the babies thrown out with the bathwater is the city of Miami itself. For one thing, almost half the picture takes place in other countries: Haiti, Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Switzerland. They should have called it Can't-Wait-to-Get-Out-of-Miami Vice, as it globe-hops like a James Bond movie. Even when they're in the city, the local flavor is missing. Except for a few postcard shots, it might just as well be the Los Angeles of Collateral.

Sonny Crockett (Farrell) and Ricardo Tubbs (Foxx) still work undercover as partners in the Miami P.D., despite cracking so many high-profile cases they should be well known to the underworld. When an FBI sting goes bad in a mildly confusing opening, Crockett and Tubbs are assigned to help the feds catch drug-dealing white supremacists. (Tubbs may have trouble if they try to infiltrate!)

Without clarifying the connection, they're soon setting up deals with Miami druglord Jose Yero (John Ortiz) and moving up to his boss, hidden away in South America, Jesus Montoya (Luis Tosar). Pulling Montoya's strings while pushing his buttons is Isabella (Gong Li), who is soon in bed with Crockett, literally if not figuratively.

The plot is routine stuff that Mann advances in routine but often rousing fashion, but there's little reason to care about any of the characters. Even our humorless heroes aren't particularly likable. For an arbitrary climax that brings all the good guys and bad guys together for an incoherent shootout, Tubbs' girlfriend, Trudy (Naomie Harris), is kidnapped and needs to be rescued. It's hard to tell who's shooting whom, especially since we hardly know the supporting characters. One lawman gets shot in the leg and is shown several times writhing on the ground, so he must be fairly important; but his face is always in shadow and I still have no idea who he is.

Foxx at least makes an effort to act occasionally, while Farrell, his accent changing from scene to scene if not line to line, is content to pose. Each new movie he puts out makes it harder to remember how great he was in Tigerland.

Yero says he doesn't trust the Americans because "They are too good at what they do." Miami Vice shows what happens when Americans– who are usually good at what they do– don't do it so well.