From Jean-Baptiste Thoret's illuminating criticism of Miami Vice, one of the most evocative and important cinematic achievements in recent memory:
"The classical/modern conflict, essential in Mann, takes here an unexpected turn and puts Miami Vice undoubtedly at the origin of a new cycle in Mann’s work. The question is no longer, as in Manhunter (1986) or Heat, to evaluate what between two worlds is similar or different since, if disparity remains, it is in a negligible manner. From this point of view, classicism with its strong events (hold-ups, shoot-outs, marked positions, etc.), its simplification of the stakes and its resolution of an initial given situation is consumed: the leak in the heart of a governmental agency that launched the narrative will never be identified, the romance between Isabella and Sonny appears suddenly on the way and finally takes the upper hand, while, at the end, Montoya vanishes. From modernity and from American cinema of the 1970s, Miami Vice has kept a problematic rapport to action, between deflating (how many dismissed sequences and aborted conclusions) and overheating. But there is also the feeling of a complex and illegible world, in which it has become impossible to interact if not in a peripheral manner (the release of Trudy from the claws of the Aryen brothers, the elimination of Yero, etc.).....
How can man hold on in a disembodied world, so transparent but ultimately so opaque? The disappearance of the human, its dematerialization in the heart of an urban universe governed by technology, and thus its capacity for resistance, constitutes one of the central themes of Mann’s cinema and finds in Miami Vice its most accomplished extension. Here, the only point of view capable of reversing the flux is in the Sonny-Isabella axis. When their eyes connect, immediately the world recedes and the flux subsides."
Many others have offered a wide variety of approaches to Michael Mann's masterpiece, but this criticism is a significant starting-point for a new analysis and understanding of cinema in the digital age. It articulates new technology as it relates to cinema and narrative, which I believe to be a crucial realm of cinema and media studies to which I soon hope to contribute. As Deleuze notes, cinema doesn't create a representation of a world or an idea. It is its own world. And Michael Mann understands this in relation to film technology as no other filmmaker does.