Synopsis: A U.S. Customs official uncovers a money laundering scheme involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Release Date: July 15, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Biography, Crime
In the mid ’80s, customs agent Robert Mazur took on the identity of Bob Musella, a wealthy Italian businessman, in order to gain the trust of and ultimately take down some of the biggest Latin American drug cartels. His story isn’t well known, and his actions are glossed over because the War on Drugs is still ongoing, but Mazur’s efforts still make for compelling drama. Add Bryan Cranston as Mazur and you have the recipe for an instant hit, and that’s what The Infiltrator is. The film helps shed light on the little known exploits of a major crime bust while humanizing the undercover agents who worked to make it happen. It also doesn’t play too many of the obvious emotional cards along the way either, instead focusing on highlighting how down and dirty these undercover agents need to get. Does it stretch the truth a little bit? Yes, but nothing feels too outlandish, save for a grand finale that is a little too tongue-in-cheek for its own good.
Everywhere else, The Infiltrator moves with a tight pace and keeps the exposition to a minimum. That’s great for keeping the audience invested, but it also will leave many audience members asking questions. By and large, the film paints a pretty succinct picture, but there are a few too many moments where it doesn’t competently shine a light on the stakes or the circumstances surrounding Mazur’s operation. When things turn substantially more dangerous than they were before, for example, it’s not as effectively communicated as it could be. We understand that the stakes have been raised, but only because the characters tell us so. The story, on the other hand, misses those essential moments.
There’s not enough glossed over in the film for it to be considered unwatchable or confusing, but the fact that many of its “big” moments don’t have the requisite punch says something about The Infiltrator‘s filmmaking. An innocuous approach serves the casual nature with which these criminals are willing to murder and launder in excess, but it doesn’t highlight what makes Mazur and the entire operation so important. This is essentially three agents – Mazur, his fake fiancée Kathy (Diane Kruger), and a fellow agent Amir (John Leguizamo) – against one of the biggest cartels ever. It should feel like a monumental event, and yet there isn’t enough fanfare put around the major events in the film outside of that aforementioned third act scene.
Luckily, the film’s central conceit is enough to carry The Infiltrator through, even if it doesn’t land all of its punches effectively. The cast is stellar from top to bottom, the dialogue is sharp and appropriately mysterious, and the film is well put together from a technical perspective. If not for those sections where the story assumes the audience knows the story already, this would have been a home run. As it stands, The Infiltrator is a slick drama with a few hiccups.
With Bryan Cranston in the role of an undercover agent at the height of his game, The Infiltrator was bound to score points for its acting right off the bat. It’s no surprise that Cranston owns every scene he’s in, especially when he’s deep in character as his alter ego, Bob Musella. This is clearly a guy who is good at his job, but who is also aware that he may have bitten off more than he can chew, and Cranston vacillates between those levels expertly.
Alongside Cranston, the rest of The Infiltrator‘s cast is excellent, from Kruger and Leguizamo to smaller bit parts like Benjamin Bratt’s Roberto Alcaino, one of Pablo Escobar’s key players. Surrounding Cranston with talent is key, and luckily, The Infiltrator cast has it in spades. There are a lot of familiar faces spread throughout the film, and each person gives it their all.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Brad Furman
- Producer(s): Paul M. BrennanBrad FurmanMiriam SegalDon Sikorski
- Screenwriter(s): Ellen Brown Furman
- Story: Robert Mazur
- Cast: Bryan Cranston (Robert Mazur)John Leguizamo (Emir Abreu)Diane Kruger (Kathy Ertz) Benjamin Bratt (Roberto Alcaino)Amy Ryan (Bonni Tischler)Olympia Dukakis (Aunt Vicky)Mark Holden (Eric Wellman)Said Taghmaoui (Amjad Awan)Tim Dutton (Ian Howard)Michael Paré (Barry Seal)Lara Decaro (Andrea Mazur)Juliet Aubrey (Evelyn Mazur)
- Editor(s): Luis Carballar
- Cinematographer: Joshua Reis
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Dinah Collin
- Casting Director(s): Gail Stevens
- Music Score: Chris Hajian
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: UK