2 March 2003 | bmacv
Alec Baldwin walks away with quirky crime picture, having the time of his life
Alec Baldwin sports a great haircut in Miami Blues and knows it. He struts and swaggers through the movie like the cock of the walk, having a high old time and giving us one, too. It's an exhilarating, watch-this performance that can't help but call attention to itself but luckily happens to fit the character.
The character isn't so much fun. He's a happy-go-lucky psycho just sprung from prison and landed in Miami, where he brushes off a Hare Krishna acolyte in the airport by breaking his finger (the poor guy dies of shock). At his hotel he orders up a hooker (Jennifer Jason Leigh); they hit it off and pair up, mainly because `Princess Not-So-Bright' has trouble with independent thought. Then Baldwin is off and running through Dade and Broward Counties, stealing wallets and identities, staging impromptu holdups, and running giddily amok.
Tired old cop Fred Ward picks up his scent, and even shares a meal of many brews and Leigh's pork chops with the couple. But Baldwin turns the tables and ambushes Ward in his ratty old residential hotel, putting him in the hospital. The upside is that now Baldwin's got a new identity Ward's with a gun and a badge to prove it. Flamboyant and reckless, he continues his felonious spree like an overgrown kid playing cops and robbers. But he can't keep it up forever, not even in the anything-goes milieu of South Beach....
Miami Blues is drawn from a crime novel by Charles Willeford, who wrote (he died before the picture was adapted) in the playful, inventive Elmore Leonard vein. There's not much plot, just enough to hold together the characters, which it's about (and the movie's full of quirky characters, memorably including Shirley Stoller). But, though Ward gets top billing and Leigh flashes her credentials as a graduate of the Meryl Streep Academy of Accents, it's Baldwin's movie. If you're fond of ham, you're in for a feast.