Based on a true story, The Infiltrator takes place in 1986, where federal agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston aka “Breaking Bad” and “Trumbo”) goes perilously deep undercover to infiltrate the trafficking network of the notorious Colombian drug kingpin named Pablo Escobar.
Working with fellow agents Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger from “Inglorious Basterds” and FX ‘s “The Bridge”) and Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo from “The Lincoln Lawyer” and “John Wick”), Mazur poses as a slick, money-laundering businessman named Bob Musella. Gaining the confidence of Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), Escobar's top lieutenant, Mazur must navigate a deadly and vicious criminal underworld.
My Review: Before I get into the meat and potatoes of the film itself, I want to point out that I have seen Bryan Cranston in three efforts lately. One in his Oscar nominated effort “Trumbo”. His Tony Award winning performance that was reimagined for HBO cable as President Lyndon Johnson in “All the Way”. And now here with the true story of Federal Agent Mazur in The Infiltrator. For my money, Bryan Cranston, whether its films, theater or TV, is the best triple threat working actor in Hollywood today.
Cranston has had a very long career, but most of his resume is highlighted with supporting type characters who more often were on the more dramatically light side of the plot. But since his critically acclaimed years on AMC’s “Breaking Bad”, Hollywood has re-examined the 60 year old actor’s talent in a way which has allowed his undervalued acting prowess to really flourish to the surface in ways for me are “Brando-esque” (my word for the highest of praise). And with this latest effort Cranston proves again he doesn’t just acts the written material he’s given, he elevates the film’s written material, through an effortlessly display of authentic versatility, charisma, attitude, human frailty, bravery and over all dramatic heft.
Now, to the substance of the movie I offer a couple key points. First, I have read that the overall film itself has some plot points that did not happen or were reimagined for sensational effect. For me they do not detract from a solid story of a decent man, who for whatever reason - living on a government salary, willingly volunteers to metaphorically stick his head inside the unpredictably, volatile and dangerous drug cartel lion’s mouth. So much so (metaphorically speaking again) that he could literally tickle the beast’s “family’s jewels” from the very inside………….if you get my meaning. This is what real undercover work looks like and it’s perilously deadly work on top of that where one mistake with your memory or one subtle miniscule miscue with an ever evolving convoluted profile could cost him and his family’s life immediately………………….. Without any warning.
SECOND, ITS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU KNOW the film seemed ever so slightly out of focused while simultaneously bathed in a faint yellow and blue hue. No doubt the director was trying to capture the visual quality of the 1980’s with its less than digital crispness. And while it’s not at all an issue to enjoying the film, it’s very presence along with the well place lava lamps, reel to reel tape recording devices, tube TV monitors, flashy gaudy jewelry, polyester attire and background art deco colors all worked well in capturing the atmospherics of the Miami Vice–ish drug battles that were going on in South Florida during that time.
For some strange reason Rotten Tomato’s collective critic pool (as of my blog) has this film rated at 59 i.e. “rotten”;…………., personally I don’t get it. For the 2 hours and 7 minutes running time I felt completely immersed into what the story was about, as well as having a real connection and understanding to what the key characters roles were. And while there were a few slightly under developed secondary characters in the film and some scenes where the transition points from one to the next were a bit confusing and clunky, overall I found “The Infiltrator” to be riveting, historically fascinating and emotionally touching, largely due to the acting dexterity and talent of Brian Cranston.
3 -1/2 Stars