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. 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 he was never in any danger. He was to be told the next morning during a debrief.
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".
Several crew members criticized Michael Mann's decisions during production, including sudden script changes, filming in unsafe weather conditions, and locations that "even the police avoid, drafting gang members to work as security."
Filming 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 filming of the ending.
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". It's a reference to Miami Vice (1984) and possibly Don Johnson, who was the original Sonny Crockett. In Miami Vice: Brother's Keeper (1984), The Allman Brothers Band is Crockett's favorite band. In the 1970s, Johnson co-wrote songs with Dickey Betts, and several were recorded by the band.
Between when he was cast and the start of production, Jamie Foxx won an Oscar, greatly increasing his ego and his demands. He was being paid less than Colin Farrell, and demanded a raise. Farrell's salary was cut. Foxx refused to fly commercially, forcing Universal to provide a private jet. He 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, 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 Uruguay.
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 a fake Ferrari body on a Corvette chassis.
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.
In the opening scenes, Tubbs identifies Sal Magluta as the drug trafficker running go-fast boats. In real life, Magluta is one of Miami's reputed "Cocaine Cowboys," and is currently serving a life sentence for money laundering.
The waterfront mansion at the end was in Delray Beach, Florida. It was over 60,000 square feet, and had been built for the heirs of a large soft drink fortune. Before they could take possession of the house, they were robbed, and left Florida swearing never to return. Instead of demolishing it the normal way, it was chosen to be used in the film. It was completely demolished after filming wrapped, and three beachfront houses were built on the site.
This movie, along with Heat (1995) and Collateral (2004), all feature 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, 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.
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.
When Rico says "Let's take it to the limit one more time" at the beginning of the third act, it may be a reference to "Take It to the Limit," co-written by Glenn Frey. Frey guest-starred on Miami Vice: Smuggler's Blues (1985), which was named for a song he wrote as a solo artist.
Michael Mann: [repeated line] Isabella tells Sonny the line she got in a fortune, "life is short, time is luck." It was previously used in Heat (1995) when Neil McCauley is trying to convince Eady to leave with him. Molly said it to Will Graham in Manhunter (1986).
This movie features Isaach De Bankolé and Naomie Harris, though they don't speak together onscreen. Both starred in the "rebooted" 007 films. De Bankole played warlord Steven Obanno in Casino Royale (2006). Harris played MI6 operative Eve Moneypenny in Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015).