This post will be totally rewritten to be more of a spoiler. Although the Sergio Leone idea is fine, I want to be more explicit about what makes this an interesting film about the intelligence community.
If we were to have an "intelligence community movie film festival", the film Sicario (2015) directed by Denis Villeneuve would certainly be on the agenda. Unlike so many other films that Hollywood makes on the subject, this film is not insanely inaccurate at all levels. Yes, it is implausible now and then, but it does at least address a number of interesting issues in a way that probably does not cause giggles in working professionals in the field, at least not all the time. The screenwriters and director are clearly aware of at least some of the issues involved in the fantasies they describe and this is to their credit.
It is my hope that you have seen this film before reading this post, although if you are like me, you really do not care most of the time. Oddly enough in this film I read the synopsis on IMDB and it nearly completely missed the points that I emphasize below. So be warned, or dont be warned, whatever you wish.Ultimately I will lead up to why I find the del Toro character so appealing.
So some questions and my answers in italics.
1. What is the significance of the Josh Brolin characters' unconventional dress? Because whoever he is, he is outside the culture of traditional law enforcement. Corporate culture is real, and law enforcement agencies have their own cultures whether FBI, Phoenix Homicide, DEA, etc. It tells Kate (Emily Blunt) that this person, who is apparently in charge), is outside the normal system.
2. Why is Matt (Josh Brolin) so evasive in a charming way about who he works for? Because contrary to popular belief, people who are covert in CIA do not advertise the fact. As far as this group is concerned, Matt is a consultant who has been put in charge of a special team by the DOJ to "expand the scope of the investigation" and "dramatically overreact".
3. Why does the Brolin character want the Emily Blunt character around at all but not her partner?
4. Why do various people in the film seem very concerned about certain formalities (rules of engagement, getting out of the car), but not about others, such as killing people in Mexico?
5. What is the Emily Blunt character so upset about during the "tunnel" operation?
6. What is the significance 2/3rds of the way through the film of the meeting between the Emily Blunt character, her partner, and two of her bosses in the FBI?
7. Why does the Josh Brolin character tell Kate not to go into the bank? Why are people so concerned about "rules of engagement"?
8. Why does the Josh Brolin character call Why is the Josh Brolin character call Alexjandro "his bird dog"?
9. Why all the mystery about Alexjandro ?
Now onto some stylistic issues involving the Benicio del Toro character and this film. I wondered just why I found this character so appealing when, after all, without going into any detail here, he does some mighty nasty things. In thinking about this, it occurred to me that he fit a model that was not entirely expected and which may not have been intentional on the part of the filmmakers.
These characteristics include having a mysterious and tragic past, of being very good in a gunfight, of speaking very seldom and then cryptically. He is very secretive about his motivations and his intents. He manages to convince us that while he is cruel, that he may have some worthwhile reasons for his cruelty. Although I am not an expert in such things, he seems very handsome. And of course this all takes place on the border between the US and Mexico and arguably during a time of war.
And while he is successful in some sense of the word, when the film is over he is walking away alone.
Of course the way I have described this, the answer is obvious. He resembles, at least superficially, the Clint Eastwood character in Sergio Leone films. Even if this analogy works for you, and it may not, as I have said before, it is not clear that this was the filmmaker's intent.
Military Rules of Engagement on Wikipedia