Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Miami Vice


Blame Netflix. I’d never have rented this for $4.68 or whatever they charge at Blockbuster, but with the Flixter you don’t lose money taking a chance on probable crap. Just mail it back. And this is one great big turd, browning slowly on the crystal white beaches in back of the Fontainebleau. If there is any chance you want to scoop this one up and study it for a while, stop here, because I will reveal the plot … what little of it I was able to decipher.


I got a lot of problems with this movie, but the basic one is I don’t believe in vice. I believe in Miami—I have to, I’ve been there, though it is difficult to sustain that belief once you’ve left—but “vice” is drugs, gambling, and prostitution … and it can be and has been and still is, depending on the jurisdiction you live in, homosexuality, anal and oral sex, adultery, promiscuity, and ripping off those DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW patches on mattresses. Vice is sin, and I don’t believe we need laws against sin. MV begins with a little nod toward high-end prostitution, or maybe “white slavery” (which is and should be a crime, because the women involved are not free agents), mostly for the chance to show a really happenin’ nightclub and the beautiful coke snorters who inhabit it, but that quickly fizzles out and we’re back to the good old reliable “vice” of illegal drug smuggling.

I am on record elsewhere as advocating the total legalization of all “controlled substances” for people over 18 years of age. I won’t go into it all again too deeply, but I can’t resist pointing out once more that, yes, crack and heroin and glue-sniffing destroys lives … and that 70 years of war on these substances has proven there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. That, and the indisputable fact that the one drug that destroys more lives, both of the users and those around them, than all other drugs put together is the one mind-altering drug that is perfectly legal: alcohol. We tried banning it, to the enthusiastic cheers of the teetotalers and the Sicilian Mafia and practically no one else, and that worked so well we repealed it and went after the small fry, like marijuana and LSD. And couldn’t even win that war. There has always been organized crime, but the 18th Amendment put it on steroids, and the War on Drugs made entirely new gangs from interesting and colorful new ethnic groups and put them on nuclear power. ‘Nuff said about that.

So I don’t like narcs. Another group of people I don’t like are spies, undercover agents, moles, call them what you will. Many narcs work undercover, which makes them spies. Spying is the filthiest profession in the world, even if your goal is a laudable one. The job description is simple: liar, and traitor. You befriend your enemy and then stab him in the back. Even if your enemy is truly evil, the filth is bound to rub off on you. Nobody likes a rat, not even the cops who pay them.

But even in this moral wasteland, there should be some standards … and in this movie Sonny the narc pisses all over them. There are three bad people at the top of this drug cartel, and one of them is a woman. (A Chinese woman, from Cuba, played by Li Gong, and I never did figure that one out.) Sonny quickly gets in bed with her … and that makes him a whore, pure and simple. Am I the only one who sees that? Don’t feed me that bullshit that they “fell in love.” You cannot tell me, on the one hand, that drugs are pure evil, that the purveyors of them are poisoning our schoolchildren, and then somehow say … “Except her, ’cause she’s got a great ass.” Sonny, you contemptible piece of shit, you are sleeping with a Dealer of Death! That doesn’t bother you?

Apparently it doesn’t, because after the entirely incomprehensible final shootout (Lee said “I wish they were wearing uniforms,” so at least we’d know whether to cheer or boo when somebody got his brains blown out), he spirits her away and puts her on a boat to her homeland. You can’t have it both ways, asshole. Does she have the blood of innocents on her hands, or doesn’t she? Are drugs evil, or aren’t they?

Moral of the story: If you’re going to poison schoolchildren, make sure you’ve got a great ass.