The Miami Vice Movie Critique
The movie, Miami Vice was about two Miami Dade police hotshots of a special detail—detectives Sonny (Colin Farrell) and Rico (Jamie Foxx), who are asked by the FBI to go undercover for a drug-bust operation after the FBI cover was blown, along with those of collaborative government agencies. The FBI had among its collaborative ranks a local criminal, ‘Alonzo’, as the one who arranged relations between the undercover FBI agents and the dealers. The drug-trafficker, a Columbian named Jose Yero, however, blackmailed Alonzo into ‘giving up’ the FBI, resulting to the downhill slide of the entire operation. The previous agents dealing with this assignment that began with a ‘preliminary meet-greet’ were killed, and with the FBI’s exposure, it was not possible to assimilate new agents from within the bureau and the other agencies it worked with. Hence, the only thing to do was hire people from within the government who were not directly linked to the previous covert intelligence operation—the detectives were hired on this premise. With the similar objective of infiltrating the ranks of the underground business strata from below, to determine how or where the leak came from, and ultimately incriminate the drug dealers and the drug lord (a man named ) the Miami-Dade detectives, armed with newly-fabricated criminal identities disguised as men who delved in illegal-goods transportation set out on a dangerous game of lies and deceit. All else is typical Hollywood drama and action, with gunfights and such.
The movie was successful in demonstrating the intelligence cycle step by step. A clandestine meeting between the undercover agents and the FBI representative consisted of outlining the 5 Ws (why, when, what, who and where), and the How of the necessity for gathering intelligence. The intelligence problem—or the establishment of the necessity for intelligence, and again the answering of the ‘Why is there a need’ (Krizan, 2006) question was of course pinpointed to the existence of leaks within the bureaucracy, leading to the failure of the intended drug bust. Also, the circumstances necessitated that the participants be outside of the bureaucracy, and kept secret between the members of the local police department’s special detail, to minimize the risk of exposure to the enemy. The subject of the investigation (the ‘Who’ component) was also defined to be the members of the drug-dealing operations, starting from the middleman Jose Yero. Other questions were answered as such: ‘What’: drug bust; ‘When’, indicating not only the starting time but the entire time frame: ASAP, now until they have fully infiltrated the system; and ‘Where’: from Haiti, the source of the drug load, to the United States drop-points. The ‘How’ component—or the devising of strategies for both intelligence gathering and ultimately the incrimination, was a question of the means of approach or getting ‘up-close and personal’ with the enemy, involving buying or selling, or even a number of other possible activities, only that the movie focused on transportation of illegal-goods which the enemy outsourced. This was just as well because not only were the agents able to intercept the ‘goods’, but also gain leeway into thorough investigation of the ‘drug business network’—meaning their customers, their means, and their routes.
After having settled the above preliminary considerations, the intelligence action plan was concocted, which virtually involved gaining the trust of the lower ranks of the business strata, before becoming fully employed as ‘partners’ in transportation. Afterward, they had to ensure that the period of employment allows them to secure enough information/ penetrate the system. To ensure the aforementioned, the agents stole one newly-arrived drug load from the warehouse by a surprise attack, and returned these to the dealers on the pretense that another attempt at intercepting the new load was done, only that the agents-cum-illegal-transport-guys were able to stop them, finding the lost load in the process. Collection of intelligence was done along the course of the ‘partnership’, and the agents immediately updated their superiors on a regular basis about new intelligence, usually tactical. It was also during these updates that they would then decide on what to do next, to plan for tactical operations and also ensure the safety of the officers under cover, i.e. near the ending when Yero himself was coming to the US to collect his product, and was expected to be using shooters at the meet as was apparently the custom of their group (at some point they would rain gunfire on the person/people they meet up with and don’t trust); the team supervisor then came up with a plan that involved wiping out the shooters before they released the load, so as to cover the detectives.
The motives of the man, Yero, however, had not been merely to protect the activities of the drug business but was apparently driven by his jealousy at the relationship between detective Sonny and Isabelle, the Chinese businesswoman who was kind of like the drug lord’s right hand. This was demonstrated near the end when after an incident that put the life of detective Rico’s wife on the line, the agents surmised that Yero was becoming rather renegade to the partnership, and was expected to be in want of killing the two, acting on his own without his boss’s knowledge. This time around, their cover was not yet blown— Yero had been merely began working against the two on unfounded suspicion that there was something ‘wrong’ about the transport partners, although of course he was right, only by a guess. He made the mistake of using the same method he used to annihilate the previous FBI agents, which was simply to take them by surprise using sharpshooters effectively hidden somewhere, so much so that the countermeasures that the cops had come up with became successful. The only catch was that the shooters could not be annihilated ASAP since they could not be detected by IR vision as they had themselves covered with cloth before doing the actual shooting. For some reason, the shooters uncovered themselves for the attack, making them easy targets, which makes one think that that was another mistake; they could have been successful at killing the detectives had they positioned themselves in a way that they were still covered and their body heat could not betray them. Then again, the movie wouldn’t have ended the way it did. The ‘holes’ to their countermeasures were obviously put there so as to lead to the happy ending.
The methods for securing the intelligence, usually tactical, were largely by close interaction with target, although prior to making this contact (the ‘preliminary meet-greet’), the FBI had previously gathered IMINT, such as that of the Go-Fast boats carrying the drugs from Haiti to Miami in an aerial perspective, and many other kinds of intelligence pertaining to the activities and identities of the drug associates. Authentication procedures were used by both parties to make sure of the identities of the people they were dealing with—FBI had agent Sonny give his code to verify that he was who he said he was and more; Yero downloaded the fabricated criminal records of the detectives from the fellow criminal whom the police used as the bridge.
What was Hollywood was the drama: the use of the people close to the undercover agents by the enemy in attempts at foiling the plans of the agents—the enemy acts upon unfounded suspicion that the people they were dealing with were ‘wrong’ (of course they were but they weren’t supposed to give off that impression), uses the people close to them to blackmail them. The actions and judgments of all the characters were ultimately tainted by emotions, i.e. to the point that agent Sonny actually arranges for the escape of a criminal, the woman whom he had apparently fallen in love with, for which, when you come to think of it, he could be criminally charged for. Even the downfall of the drug-trafficker, Yero, is triggered by jealousy; looking back on other similar movies, hardcore criminals usually just kill the source of agitation without second thought. The pace may have also been quite unreal; the part where they planned out their activities seemed to fast, informal and spontaneous, as in whenever they meet up for intelligence-sharing, they just stand in a loose huddle and start exchanging ideas. There is a lack of the organization that could be expected from so dangerous an undertaking.
Krizan, L. (2006). Intelligence Essentials for Everyone. Department of Defense. [please insert publisher/website]