A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is not for kids. It's focused on cops undercover as drug smugglers: This involves lying, dealing with criminals, and performing illegal activities. The film includes frequent references to drug use and some images (crystal meth, cocaine, heroin). It also features brutal violence: gunshots blow through bodies, limbs, and heads, producing much blood. The effect is not cartoonish, but grisly and startling. Characters seek revenge, but don't always feel better when they achieve it.
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What's the story?
MIAMI VICE opens on Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Rico Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) going about their local business: They're scoping a nightclub for smalltime thugs. Unexpectedly, they're called up to the big time, a multi-agency case that's gone terribly wrong. Summoned by a former associate (John Hawkes) whose family has been targeted by a group of drug dealers who call themselves the Aryan Brotherhood, the detective duo agrees to go undercover: They pilot expensive planes and those speedy boats that skip over the water, and cut deals with sinister Jose (John Ortiz) and his cold-blooded employer, Jesus (Luis Tosar). Undercover work wreaks havoc on their love lives: While Rico is in a committed relationship with fellow detective Trudy (Naomie Harris), Sonny is a swaggery player. His romance with Montoya's money launderer Isabella (Gong Li), initiated at a bar in Cuba, is rendered in impressionistic fragments.
Is it any good?
An action movie that's actually not very interested in action, Michael Mann's Miami Vice is mostly smart, occasionally slowed by clichéd plot turns. The film version is more violent and less upbeat than the 1980's TV series, exploring the ways that an expanding international economy of drugs, weapons, and money takes its toll on everyone, even those who try to fight back.
While the shift in focus to Sonny's involvement with Isabelle is actually brief -- the movie soon returns to its more regular business of shooting and dealing -- it reshapes what's at stake. Tubbs worries whether his buddy is in "too deep": "There's undercover," Rico observes, "and then there's 'Which way is up?'" This question of perspective is embodied by the elusive Isabella. While the movie offers the usual line-blurring between cops and criminals, her dislocation is never resolved.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the friendship between Crockett and Tubbs: Why do they support each other even when one thinks the other is going astray? Why does Crockett decide to help his criminal girlfriend escape? How do the various "sides" (cops, federal agents, and several tiers of criminals) distrust and betray one another?
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