Michael Mann had his actors train with real-life undercover law enforcement officers. Both Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell observed undercover operations from a safe distance. Colin Farrell was told he'd learned so much, he was welcome to participate in a real sting operation. During the operation (caught on video, excerpts of which are shown in the DVD extra), guns were drawn and the officers identities questioned. Farrell reports being scared for his life. He spontaneously ripped open his shirt to demonstrate he wasn't wearing a wire, an act the agent-in-charge later commended for being realistic, quick-witted improvisation. After suffering anxiety and insomnia that night, Farrell contacted the agent-in-charge and was told that the sting operation was staged and that Farrell was never in any danger; he was to be told the next morning during a debrief.
Filiming in Miami took place during hurricane season. While filming a scene of Crockett and Tubbs driving in a Ferrari with the top down, a windstorm blew out the windows of a tall building. The glass damaged the car and just missed the actors. Another storm damaged the production office and delayed the filming of the ending.
Filming in Dominican Republic was suspended during October 2005 due to raucous behavior from the public and a shooting where the aggressor was injured. Jamie Foxx left the country and refused to work outside of the United States. This forced Michael Mann to change the original ending which was to be filmed in Paraguay.
Colin Farrell admitted to Total Film: "I didn't like it so much - I thought it was style over substance and I accept a good bit of the responsibility. It was never going to be Lethal Weapon (1987), but I think we missed an opportunity to have a friendship that also had some elements of fun".
During filming in Ciudad del Este (Paraguay) the crew came across bootleg and other illegal merchandise for sale in a similar fashion to that of the film's theme. Michael Mann purchased a copy of Collateral (2004) for two dollars while he was there.
Several crew members criticized Michael Mann's decisions during production, which featured sudden script changes, filming in unsafe weather conditions, and choosing locations that "even the police avoid, drafting gang members to work as security".
In the scene in the Cuban bar, Sonny tells Isabella that his dad toured with a band that played music in the style of 'The Allman Brothers Band', because they made "THE music back then". This is a reference to the Miami Vice (1984) TV-series, and possibly also to Don Johnson, who was the original Sonny Crockett. In the pilot episode of the show, it is stated that The Allman Brothers Band is Crockett's favorite band. Don Johnson is a personal friend of the band, and in the 1970s, he co-wrote songs with now former The Allman Brothers Band guitarist/singer Dickey Betts, several of which were recorded by the band.
Crockett's car in the film is a Ferrari F430 Spider. In the TV series he drove a 1985 Ferrari Testarossa. The Ferrari Daytona Spyder that Crockett drove in the series' early days was really a fake Ferrari body on a Corvette chassis.
Between when he was cast and the start of production, Jamie Foxx won an Oscar, greatly increasing his ego and his demands. He refused to fly commercially, forcing Universal to give him a private jet. He also wouldn't participate in scenes on boats or planes. After gunshots were fired on set in the Dominican Republic on October 24, 2005, Foxx packed up and refused to return. This forced Michael Mann to re-write the film's ending, which some crew members characterized as less dramatic than the original.
The production drew the attention of Hollywood insiders and the Trade magazines when its budget spiraled out of control thanks to script rewrites and location changes. The controversy lead to Universal issuing a statement, defending the film and director Michael Mann.
Sal Magluta, the drug trafficker identified by Tubbs as running go-fast boats in the film's opening scenes, is in fact one of Miami's real-life reputed "Cocaine Cowboys" and is currently serving a life sentence for money laundering.
This movie, along with Heat (1995) and Collateral (2004), all feature at one point or another, a white supremacist or supremacists. Waingro has various tattoos of his affiliation. Max is robbed while tied to the steering wheel. Apart from their boots, quilted jackets, and generally all being Caucasian, the thug holding the gun to Max, has a small and faint swastika on the corner of his lower eye.
Several of the firearms used in the film include the Barret M82A1 .50 sniper rifle, the Heckler & Koch G36C and G3A3 assault rifles, a Heckler & Koch HK69 40mm grenade launcher, a Benelli M4 Super 90 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun, a SIG SG 552, a Remington M24 sniper rifle, and a Colt M4A1 carbine.
The watches, which Jamie Foxx (Ricardo Tubbs) wears, are a "Portuguese Chrono-Automatic" and an "Aquatimer Split Minute Chronograph" from the swiss watch manufacturer IWC (International Watch Company).
The suits that Jamie Foxx wore in the film were designed by noted fashion designer Ozwald Boateng. He had worked with Foxx in the past and caught Michael Mann's eye, who then asked him to work on the film.
Tony Curran has a small role as the red-haired Aryan Brother. He is most noticeable, when Trudy is being filmed by the AB. He's the AB holding the camera in front of Trudy when she's detained in the trailer park.
Unlike the TV series, relatively little to no information is given about this universe's Sonny Crockett. In the original series, Sonny Crockett, was an ex-football star who was drafted into the Army, sent to Vietnam and then had a long and noted career in the police force. This version of Crockett merely gives out the fact that he's a decorated officer, but little to no information on his background(football star,soldier, etc.). This could be intentional, however, for not only the modernization of the series, but to differentiate between Colin Farrell's and Don Johnson's Crockett character.
Michael Mann: [repeated line] The line that Isabella tells Sonny she got in a fortune; "life is short, time is luck" was previously used in the movie Heat (1995) in the scene where Neil McCauley is trying to convince Eady to leave with him. It was also used in Manhunter (1986) by Molly when talking to Will Graham.
This movie features both Isaach De Bankolé and Naomie Harris - despite not speaking together onscreen - they of course starred in the "rebooted" 007 films : Casino Royale (2006) with de Bankole as warlord Steven Obanno, and Harris as MI6 operative Eve Moneypenny in Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).