Frederick Frenger, Jr. (Alec Baldwin), who prefers to be called Junior, is a con man, thief and a cheat. Just out of prison, he’s headed to Miami looking for a fresh start (and a whole new crop of victims). Things get off on the wrong foot. At the airport, he’s approached by a Hare Krishna and breaks the guy’s finger. The poor guy dies of shock. Trouble seems to find Junior; his reckless attitude gets him into the kind of trouble most third rate crooks would know enough to avoid. He wanders around, looking for wallets and suitcases to steal, identifications he can use.
Arriving in Miami, Junior meets a part-time hooker named Susie Waggoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and quickly marries her for cover. Junior figures on making Susie his unwitting accomplice and he’s also interested in getting his hands on the $10,000 she’s managed to sock away. Junior sets them up in a cute little house, which for Susie—blissfully unaware that it’s a house of cards—is a dream come true.
An investigation of the Hare Krishna murder leads unshaven, vulgar detective Sergeant Hoke Moseley (Fred Ward) to their door. When Junior finds him nosing around, he beats the detective senseless, steals his gun, badge and false teeth. Junior uses Hoke’s ID to get the drop on unsuspecting victims, whether it’s stealing purses, or some more dangerous stunt. Out of the hospital and thoroughly humiliated, Moseley borrows his landlord’s old Colt .45 and takes off after Junior. Meanwhile, it’s beginning to dawn on the naïve Susie that Junior’s behavior is a bit odd; perhaps he’s not the small businessman he claims to be.
Writer/director George Armitage does a good job of handling the characters and the casting is perfect. Alec Baldwin was young, fresh and gives one of the best performances of his career, right up there with his cameo in Glengarry Glen Ross and supporting actor work in The Cooler. Baldwin’s Junior is affable and charming, but it’s clear he can be brutal in a flash. Fred Ward, a wonderful character actor, gives Moseley a real “lived in,’ realistic quality as well as a streak of vulnerability. Jennifer Jason Leigh manages to make her rather dimwitted prostitute memorable, even though the screenplay doesn’t give her a whole lot to do. The supporting players fill things out nicely. The wonderful Shirley Stoler (The Honeymoon Killers) has a memorable turn as a suspicious coin dealer. Horror icon Martine Beswick makes something out of nothing in a turn as a waitress. Even Paul Gleason shows up as a crooked vice cop, following up on his role as Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson in Die Hard.
Miami Blues is rather violent and not for the faint of heart. If you enjoy eccentric crime fare, this one comes recommended. It’s not quite typical stuff.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Shout Factory has delivered a pretty solid 1080p transfer. Visually things look rather film-like with a nice crispness. Colors are bright and vivid throughout. Contrast is proficient, showing frequent depth and some fine textures. Detail is lacking on the occasional scene. The image is clean with no discernible flaws. This isn’t reference quality stuff, but fans should be very pleased.
The lossless stereo audio track offers clear dialogue and decent dimensionality throughout. Effects and ambient sounds are fine.
English subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Interviews (26:01) In this compilation, Alec Baldwin and Jennifer Jason Leigh discuss their casting, characters and performances and more.
- Trailer (2:11)