People love to hate this movie but I disagree.
Michael Mann is a true wizard of night cinematography; and I believe this was also one of the first big screen movies to be shot on digital. To the trained movie eyes, it’s obvious. But digital had a huge advantage - they were able to shoot night scenes with natural light (very little artificial lighting)... and it’s just gorgeous, saturated, and dark - all at the same time.
Look at this scene below for example. It’s perfect. The camera tilt, the searchlight from the helicopter, the flamethrower exhaust(!!) on the F-430.
Miami. Convertible. Night. Vice.
The sounds, and the lack of sounds. The way Tubbs makes a phone call and you don’t need to hear what they say on the other end. Sound effects fade out. It all makes perfect sense. Fantastic storytelling. How come this did not get awards for best director?
There is also the gang shootout scene (viewer discretion blah blah blah). I remember seeing it in the theater for the first time and almost fell out of my chair. Shit got real!
I also strongly believe that this was the movie that made white cars popular, literally overnight. With this single scene:
And many many more cars!
Maybe after all, this movie just too early for its time. Do yourself a favor and watch it, you’ll be surprised.