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Cop out

3 August 2006

8:43 AM

3 August 2006

8:43 AM

I’m such a dunderhead. Everyone told me that Miami Vice would be rubbish, and I kept replying, ‘No, no it won’t; you see, it’s directed by Michael Mann and he’s brilliant. He made Manhunter, Heat, The Insider and Collateral…it’s going to be great.’ People said, ‘But it’ll be naff and embarrassing, with spivvy hairdos and loose-fitting suits.’ And I would reply, ‘No, don’t be silly, it’s not set in the Eighties. It’ll be cool, dark, gritty, urban…’

Well, don’t I feel like the prize banana. I think even subscribers to FHM magazine, at whom this film is undoubtedly aimed, will be hard pressed to enjoy themselves. My heart, which was beating an optimistic pit-a-pat as the lights were dimmed, had slowed to energy-saving mode after the first few minutes. Loose-fitting suits? Check (is it something to do with the weather?). Silly hairdos? Check. Colin Farrell’s is even worse than it was in Alexander. There it was a peroxide mullet; here it’s a blonde-striped bob that he tucks into a neat ponytail when he goes into action. Poor lad.

So: Miami’s slickest undercover cops, Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Tubbs (Jamie Foxx), are subcontracted by the FBI to infiltrate a drugs-trafficking network. Using immaculate false identities they manoeuvre themselves into contact with a drugs-trading middleman, José (John Ortiz), who leads them to the head honcho, Montoya — an Escobar-like figure with glittering eyes and a neatly trimmed beard. Montoya commissions Crockett and Tubbs to move a drug load into south Florida. (They manage this, incidentally, by simply hiding their little aeroplane in another plane’s blind spot as they enter American air space, so that theirs doesn’t show up on air-traffic control. Who knew it could be so easy? I seem to be in the wrong line of work.) Having succeeded in their first mission, our boys are told to bring the next load in on an enormous ship. But foolish Crockett can’t help boffing Montoya’s girl, Isabella (Gong Li), and thus makes José suspicious of his motives. José shows Montoya some video footage of Crockett and Isabella getting sweaty on a nightclub dancefloor, and Montoya gets the hump. Tubbs’s girlfriend Trudy (Naomie Harris) is kidnapped as an insurance policy, and soon everyone’s trigger fingers are getting itchy.

I know, I know. I don’t know why I ever thought it could be anything other than deeply silly. But I had such huge faith in Michael Mann, who has after all never made a dud film. Even such a feeble plot could be persuaded to work by decent dialogue and effective characterisation, but it’s all such a nonsense. It’s about as engaging as a two-hour commercial break: fast cars, even faster speedboats, private aeroplanes, and some quality real estate are being shown off by two badly dressed, indifferent-looking actors. There’s a great gunfight at the end (Mann gives good gunfight — Heat has the best ever, in my view) and it does look fantastic throughout, but that hardly amounts to a recommendation.

My Super Ex-Girlfriend is much more entertaining. While not as good as it could or should have been, it’s based on such a marvellous concept that I couldn’t help loving it: what kind of hell, this comedy asks, could be unleashed by a superwoman scorned?

Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) is dating mousy Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman) and finding her a bit odd — neurotic, talks too much, keeps rushing off to the loo in the middle of dinner. Then she tells him she moonlights as G-Girl, the local superhero, and all is explained. Or is it? Matt is initially relieved (and definitely excited), but then he continues to find Jenny a bit scary and mad. She’s jealous, she’s bossy and she’s grumpy about having to save the planet every five minutes. He feels stifled, and he knows he doesn’t love her, so he dumps her. She takes it badly. First, she blows him across the room with her superbreath, then she fries his goldfish with her laser vision, and finally she punches a hole in his ceiling and zooms off into the night, vowing revenge. Matt’s in trouble.

This film was made by Ivan Reitman, and of all his films probably the most similar to this is Ghostbusters which, may I remind you, was superb. One of its key qualities (as well as Bill Murray) was to employ the idea that ghosts were a routine, if tiresome, feature of New York life. In this film, G-Girl is a part of everyday New York life. When Matt’s friend Vaughn sees G-Girl extinguish a burning building, he is not really surprised (‘She’s just doing her G-Girl thing,’ he tells Matt on the telephone), and for G-Girl this is quite annoying. She’s out there, 24/7, saving lives, and no one’s really interested. She’s more of a fourth emergency service than a phenomenon. Now that’s funny.

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