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Burn Notice the Series—Bruce Campbell Playing Bruce Campbell, from My Name is Bruce.

I’ve got to tell you, I struggled with what to use as JPFmovies’ third installment of our tribute to Bruce Campbell, so SS recommended Burn Notice.  As I don’t have regular/contemporary TV I had no clue what he was talking about, so obtained the pilot and episodes 1-2.  While he does not play the leading role (and in my opinion should get more face time) Campbell does fit the mold perfectly.

Campbell plays “Sam Axe”: An aging, semi-retired pudgy covert operative and former Navy SEAL.  Constantly short of cash, Axe spends his time drinking and sleeping with rich, older Miami women in exchange for the basics: food, booze and shelter.  He and Westen (the main character) are old buddies; Axe is also Westen’s consistent link to the official spy community.  Axe is “the guy who knows a guy,” and Westen relies on Axe’s long list of shady contacts as well as his ingrained tactical and covert skills.  Axe is not all fun and games; he is also an FBI informant, reporting on Westen when the FBI buys him lunch, but Axe is glad to become a double agent and pass questionable information to the FBI agents.  At some point in the past, Axe foiled Westen’s ex-girlfriend’s attempt to sell a large shipment of weapons to a Libyan arms dealer, costing her a good deal of money.  As a result, Fiona initially is very hostile towards him, but the two eventually become very antagonistic friends and Axe asks her for advice concerning his relationships with women.

The general premise of the show is this: Spies aren’t fired; they get “burned.”  Michael Westen received a “burn notice” and is stuck in his hometown of Miami, he’s been left in the cold with no money, no job and no information.  With no job history, cash or credit, he becomes a quasi-private eye, using the skills he learned as an intelligence operative.  With the help of his old friend, the drinking, womanizing Sam Axe (Campbell), and his gun-running, trigger-happy ex-girlfriend Fiona, he makes people’s problems disappear.  However, he remains on a constant quest to find out who burned him so he can get back into the game.  Burn Notice is in its sixth season and (like Miami Vice) filmed on location in Miami.

I liked the episodes, even though I was skeptical and expecting another run of the mill cop show with a tired twist. The first three episodes were not bad.  I don’t know if it can keep up the stories for six seasons, but the first one was probably pretty good.  The show is sort of a cross between Miami Vice and MacGiver; that is, using the flair and glitz of Miami while Westen and Campbell use hardware stores and homemade devices more than guns (that is what Westen’s ex Fiona is for).

Like I said, I think you could substitute Bruce Campbell in My Name is Bruce for Sam Axe in Burn Notice without skipping a beat—but hell, that is ok with me ‘cause there is nothing like a good old fashioned sleaze ball on TV.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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Someone read the JPFmovies list and commented to me that Miami Vice (2006) sucked—he thought all reviews were positive! Wrong, in fact I don’t think I did enough of a hatchet job so I am going to do a Miami Vice (2006) Redux.

Someone read the JPFmovies list and commented to me that Miami Vice (2006) sucked—he thought all reviews were positive!  Wrong, in fact I don’t think I did enough of a hatchet job so I am going to do a Miami Vice (2006) Redux.

As you can probably guess from the title and if you’ve read the previous review of Miami Vice anyone could guess that the film does not impress us here at JPFmovies.  We looked at this “film” some time ago but upon reflection, it did not get the review it deserved. So we will do Miami Vice the way it should’ve been done the first time.

Anyone familiar with TV from or near the 1980’s knows of Miami Vice.  The series starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as two Metro-Dade Police Department detectives working undercover in Miami.  The show ran for 5 seasons and at the height of its popularity had its theme song hit number 1 on the Billboard Charts with several other songs in the Top 40.  In fact, the musical score was the most popular in TV history.  The first season of Miami Vice saw an unprecedented 15 Emmy Award nominations and celebrities jockeyed to appear or have their music in the show.  Among the many well-known bands and artists who contributed their music to the show were Roger Daltrey, El Debarge, Duran Duran, Devo, Jackson Browne, Kate Bush, Meat Loaf, Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, Tina Turner, Peter Gabriel, ZZ Top, The Tubes, Dire Straits, Depeche Mode, The Hooters, Iron Maiden, The Alan Parsons Project, Godley & Creme, Corey Hart, Glenn Frey, U2, Underworld, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Foreigner, The Police, Red 7, Laura Branigan, Ted Nugent, Suicidal Tendencies, The Damned and Billy Idol.  The series even guest-starred Phil Collins, Miles Davis, The Power Station, Glenn Frey, Suicidal Tendencies, Willie Nelson, Ted Nugent, Frank Zappa, The Fat Boys, and Sheena Easton.  Michael Mann, the show’s producer, was dubbed a genius.

I mean Miles Davis!  Come on—some dubbed him the coolest man alive!  I remember people canceling plans or making plans around the show.

Then in 2006, Mann put out Miami Vice the movie obviously based on the popular TV show.  The film was also about two Miami police detectives, Crockett and Tubbs, who go undercover to fight drug trafficking operations.  The film stars Jamie Foxx as Tubbs and Colin Farrell as Crockett, as well as Chinese actress Gong Li as Isabella.  The movie, however, flat out stinks on ice.  I am not sure there is one redeeming quality about it.

The plot closely resembled a typical TV episode (in fact it is based on the episode “Smugglers Blues”).  While working an undercover prostitute sting operation Sonny Crockett and Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs receive a hysterical phone call from a former informant.  The informant reveals that he is planning to leave town, and, believing his wife Leonetta to be in immediate danger, asks Rico to check on her.  Crockett learns that their informer was working as an informant for the FBI, but is now compromised.  Crockett and Tubbs quickly use their secret coded contact the FBI Special Agent in Charge John Fujima and inform him of the situation.  They track down the informant with the vehicle transponder and aerial surveillance.  The informant tells of the compromised situation and begs the two to check on his wife.  Rico tells Alonzo that he does not have to go home and in a state of grief, commits suicide by walking in front of an oncoming semi-truck.

Posing as drug smugglers “Sonny Burnett” and “Rico Cooper,” the two go undercover offer to infiltrate the cartels.  After a “high tension meeting” they pass the cartels screening process and are introduced to Archangel de Jesus Montoya (Luis Tosar), kingpin of drug trafficking in South Florida.  But there is more, during the course of their investigation, Crockett and Tubbs learn that the cartel is using the Aryan Brotherhood gang to distribute drugs, and is supplying them with state-of-the-art weaponry.  But wait, there is even more, Crockett is also drawn to Montoya’s financial advisor and lover Isabella (Gong Li), and the two begin a secret romance on the side.

That is all I can tell you and I had to research to get that much information.  Despite what I just wrote, amazingly the movie has no plot!  I found myself scratching my head during and after the film wondering where the film was, where was it going and what was the point.  The movie was written and directed by Michael Mann, but instead of getting a decent undercover story, we get a film that is stained with bad acting, horrible chemistry, wasted characters and actors, a lame villain, a worthless love story, idiotic “gadgets” and horrendous editing.  What makes matters worse is that the film tries to portray gritty realism while making Crocket & Tubs unbelievable super cops as we stated in the original review these “two were racing boats in the opening scene, driving Ferraris like Mario Andretti and then flying an Adam A500 twin piston engine plane— a rare plane (a little more than ½ a dozen were made) that is almost considered a light jet.  I mean come on, choose one maybe two out of the three but that is it.”  

When coming down to brass tacks, Miami Vice has major problems and is a really bad movie.  It was so bad I could not even laugh at the film as you can with other “bad” movies.  How could a show fall from so high to so low?  I don’t know I am still trying to figure out the movie much less the metrics of it.  The only reason I could recommend watching this film would be to help me figure out what the hell is going on.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 12, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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