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MIAMI VICE

About The Production
The reasons for returning to Miami Vice are, according to Michael Mann, simply, "attraction and timing.”

"It's the allure of doing undercover work and what happens to you…that was my central interest. When I first read Tony Yerkovich's screenplay for the original Miami Vice pilot, my instinct was to make this as a feature film. But it had already been committed to NBC as a television series.”

Several decades, and countless fans and critical nods for his films later, Mann knew that it was time to fully explore the characters he had painstakingly developed and make a film that "liberates what is adult, dangerous and alluring about working deeply undercover…especially when Crockett and Tubbs go to where their badges don't count.”

Mann welcomed the challenge of uncovering the "bad things that happen in dangerous places” with a feature film. He relates, "As an R-rated feature, we can explore some of the things we couldn't in television. There was always the sense of some self-imposed restrictions because we were a series. There's a whole sensual life that's there—for Crockett and Isabella, for Tubbs and Trudy.”

Of utmost importance to the writer/director/producer was his desire to tell the primary arc of these agents' stories: what happens when operatives go so deep undercover to infiltrate crime syndicates that they struggle to make it back to reality? He feels that's where the key dramatic opportunities lie…in telling the filmic versions of Crockett and Tubbs' immersion into danger.

"You really are out on the edge, surviving by your wits,” Mann notes. "One of the terms used for it is ‘enhanced undercover'…particularly when you are infiltrating a criminal organization that has a lot of counterintelligence resources. You can go too deep—and it happens frequently—and you have to rely on your partner to pull you back from the edge. As Tubbs says to Crockett, ‘There's undercover, and then there's which way is up?'”

Mann all too well understood that it takes a special kind of individual to work undercover or "U.C.” To authoritatively dramatize the reality that Crockett and Tubbs face, one of the first orders of business was to secure expert advice for his script development and production decisions. According to real-life undercover cops and technical consultants on the film, the majority of people who do undercover work grew up at the crossroads of good and evil. That would need to be duly highlighted to make Miami Vice's world legit.

"Undercover means that you have to assume a different identity,” notes one. "You can't have the mannerisms that you normally have as a law enforcement officer. You have to act, talk and walk like a bad guy. And you have to convince the bad guy that you are not a cop because that's the first thing they're gonna look for.”

Miami Vice would also offer Mann the chance to spend time exploring the city he helped tattoo on America's conscience in the '80s. "The allure of Miami has sustained itself in my imagination,” he notes. "The city has a perfumed reality, where things are not exactly what they seem. It's very attractive, alluring and sensual; it's also very dangerous.”

It is, indeed, a place the filmmaker calls "not the southernmost tip of the United States, but rather the northernmost tip of South America—a banking capital for cash money.”

It was vital to Mann that he capture the allure of Miami coupled with its gritty underbelly…his trademark stamp when constructing realism for his films. To capture the extreme stress and drama of real undercover work—living a fabricated identity—he would need to go to lengths to prepare his cast for their roles, and that would include the development of elaborate life histories, realistic simulation of buys and smuggling, and extensive physical and mental training.

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