How boring was that?
Collateral is superior to Miami Vice in two big ways. First, Collateral is just a lot more interesting to look at. While both movies take place mostly at night, Collateral is full of lights and the layers upon layers of reflection in glass that only night can bring. But Miami Vice, apparently in order to distinguish it from the brightness of Scarface and Bad Boys, is simply very dark. Even if their lead characters were comparable, Collateral would already be more rewatchable on visuals alone.
But in fact Collateral showcases two interesting personalities that are perfectly matched, producing the most unlikely yet compelling antagonistic partnership since Ed Norton and Brad Pitt. Both Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise were actually cool instead of just acting cool like Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell, whose lack of charisma is eclipsed only by the drug dealers who are so stoic (read: comatose) that you suspect their purpose is just to make the leads appear more dynamic by comparison.
Even the jargon-gorged script is excusable since the plot is intelligible without really knowing what anyone is talking about, but I still can’t believe I couldn’t understand any of the words(?) uttered by Foxx’s girlfriend from 28 Days Later (when they’re having breakfast with Farrell in the apartment).
Thirdly I guess, there is simply nothing new in Miami Vice. The only memorable scene is a view of the interior of a car while it gets shot up, and that’s over with early on. When the movie finally becomes a little interesting in the third act, it’s too little too late. And for that matter, it might have seemed so only because the first two were so boring.
I enjoy looking for redeeming qualities in even the worst movies (see my review of Transporter 2) but I’m already sorry I’ve wasted 300 words on Miami Vice. Collateral is a riveting stage drama accentuated by bursts of action in an expertly paced arc. Miami Vice is a few bursts of action interspersed with two hours of nothing.