The Infiltrator

The newest film that is based on a true crime story is The Infiltrator, starring Bryan Cranston as an undercover agent trying to do good in the war against drugs.

US Customs agent Robert “Bob” Mazur (Bryan Cranston) is the basis for this film, as he went deep undercover as a money launderer in an attempt to infiltrate Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel in 1985.  Mazur, posing as Bob Musella, is able to befriend Escobar’s top lieutenant Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), with the help of a questionable undercover cop named Emir Abreau (John Leguizamo) and a rookie agent Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger).

The story itself plays out slowly and not nearly as intensely as the film wants, as there seemed to be some implication that the undercover cop has some morale issues in what he/she is doing.  I found that story to be as interesting as the drug stuff itself and I wouldn’t have minded more of a focus on it.  As it is, that felt like a last minute add on in the third act to excuse some lazy writing.

Bryan Cranston continues to show that he is a superb actor who can take any material that he is handed and can wring the most out of it.  Cranston is clearly the best part of this film, displaying amazing emotions with his facial features and his expressiveness.  What tension you feel in this film is based on Cranston’s wonderful performance.  Seeing him go from celebrating an anniversary with his wife into an improvised diatribe against the waiter for show was astounding and is one more example of how this man really elevated everyone around him as well as the scenes that he is in.

The rest of the film feels like your run of the mill crime story.  Without Cranston, this thing fall completely apart.  You would think the story of one of the biggest drug busts of the 20th century, bringing down multiple criminals and one of the largest banks in the world would provide a stronger story than this does, but there really isn’t much else here.  It can even be a little dull at times, especially when Cranston is not around.

Based on Robert Mazur’s book “The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel”, The Infiltrator has its moments, and it is not a bad movie by any stretch.  It just is not a special movie either.  Without Bryan Cranston, this is completely forgettable.  Fortunately for The Infiltrator, it has Bryan Cranston and that makes this a watchable movie.

3.2 stars

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