Follow Us on Twitter

Miami Vice - Michael Mann interview

Miami Vice

Interview by Rob Carnevale

MICHAEL Mann talks about what drew him back to Miami Vice as well as the importance of putting drama into an action sequence…

Q. Some people have been surprised that this isn’t exactly like the TV series. But clearly that was your intention, wasn’t it?
A. That’s right. Who’d want to make something from 1984? The most exciting thing for me was to locate this in 2006 with the audience. It’s 11.47pm on Saturday night and right from that first instance, we’re into an intense presence, right now, where there are going to be fast breaking events that are going to change these peoples lives. Then we look into the immediate future at what’s happening. But that’s just what we did in 1984 – we weren’t looking back into the ’70s in 1984, we were looking forward.

Q. You use violence in the film quite sparingly – even though it’s strong when it’s shown. Was that deliberate?
A. To me, an action scene only has legitimacy if it’s completely dramatic. In other words, if you can break it down the same way you break down a dialogue scene. There’s an action, there’s an activity, our guys are experienced, they’ve had trigger time and even though they’re outnumbered, they are tactically superior. They are knowingly walking into an ambush which starts to take on to itself the characteristics of any other kind of dramatic scene, except that it’s just happening in the form of action.
What we’re trying to do is take an audience and put them there, as if this is happening. So I try to make it as believable and real as I can. Jamie and Colin did an incredible amount of work in pre-production so that they really can do everything that they do. And they were doing it all with live ammunition on the SWAT ranges in Miami. That was very safe. But the bottom line is that they believed that they could do the work because they did do the work. Consequently, as a director when you’re working with people like this you’re able to achieve a kind of spontaneity and a believability from the audience.

Q. How did you go about using music and clothes to create your new look for the new Miami Vice?
A. The choices of music flow from what the story’s about and what the drama is and what’s contemporary. We’re in 2006 which is moving in this era, in this world that’s a more complex, difficult world for these two guys to be undercover in with these kinds of much more exotic traffic organisations. 1984 was a much simpler place and there happened to be a design revolution that hit right then. But it’s a different planet in 2006 and that’s what made it so exciting to do.

Q. Were you surprised by the amount of technology that’s available to both the police and the drugs traffickers?
A. Well actually the traffickers have bigger budgets than law enforcement to buy the sort of technology that they use. They just buy the best that’s out there. Since the Cold War ended, all that stuff is available in the private sector – signal interception and stuff.

Q. In respect of the stature that the original Miami Vice had in terms of popular culture, you knew that this film was going to be radically different. Was there anyone that you were not afraid to offend? Who did you hope to attract?
A. The two things exist in parallel tracks, particularly in the United States. If you really have a taste for the show in 1984 we’ve just released the first two years on DVD, re-mastered with 5.1 sound, so that’s where you go to. What was exciting for all of us was to take the same operating system – ie, a really emotionally engaging story that can change their lives, that’s told in a rapid way, and plant that right in 2006. For me, it was Miami Vice as for real and for right now and that’s what was exciting.

Read our review of the film

Read our review of the original series

Colin Farrell interview

Jamie Foxx interview

Visit our Galleries