Michael Mann is back. But he’s not back on the silver screen, and he’s technically not even back on TV. Instead, the Heat and Collateral auteur will direct the pilot episode of Tokyo Vice, the crime drama series set for HBO Max.
Mann is also executive producing, and may potentially direct further episodes. Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe star. The show is based on the nonfiction memoirs of Jake Adelstein, a journalist who embedded himself with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police to sniff out corruption. Tony Award-winning playwright J.T. Rogers has adapted Adelstein’s book.
This is great news for Mann fans who worried they’d seen the last of him. He hasn’t directed a film since 2015’s Blackhat, and subsequent projects have fallen through. His Ferrari movie was usurped by James Mangold‘s Ford v. Ferrari, and his last foray into TV, the short-lived Luck, was cancelled midway through production on the second season.
Mann was the mastermind behind Miami Vice, a show that changed TV and defines the 80s. He then went on to make several gritty crime thrillers such as the aforementioned Heat. But his movies often required big budgets and huge movie stars. As the movie star faded and bigger budgets were left for franchises, it seemed like Mann would fall by the wayside.
That may still be the case cinematically, unfortunately, but hopefully his work here can be a springboard to another film. Other similar directors from his era have had the same issues. David Fincher looked like he’d have to make World War Z 2 to make another movie before Netflix greenlit his passion project, Mank. And David Lynch had to go back and revive Twin Peaks to make another project.
Expect Tokyo Vice to be even more highly anticipated now. It begins filming in February.