Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Kruger, John Leguizamo, Drugs lots of drugs
Director: Brad Furman
Running Time: 127mins
Synopsis: Based on a true story, we follow federal agent Robert Mazur (Cranston) whom in 1986 went undercover in the Medellin Cartel in order to take down the men who fund Pablo Escobar. But how deep will he find himself to catch the criminals.
Tell me if you’ve heard this before. An experienced agent or cop goes undercover in order to get to the bigwigs involved in whatever crime they’re investigating. Crossing paths with money flaunting smart dressed men who like to party but also have the tendency to turn violent on the turn of a dime. Our hero will find himself enjoying the high life, the thrill of it all and even some shred of sympathy for a few members of the clan. Just how deep will he go before he succumbs to the glitz or just when will he be discovered and brutally killed? As you can see this is not an unfamiliar tale, so if you do find yourself making this sort of film then you best have an ace up your sleeve. Luckily we have Bryan Cranston!
Quite possibly one of this generations greatest actors, Cranston gives such an honest rawness to every one of his performances. His deep gravelly voice is captivating and his ability to switch from calm gentility to fierce aggression is second to none. You always feel the weight behind every decision his characters make. The Infiltrator finds him no different. A man committed to fully embracing his fantasy persona Cranston’s Bob Mazur is an honourable individual and yet can find himself giving way to a buried darkness when called for. A scene involving a waiter and a celebration cake showcases him at his terrifying best. As the film goes on and the pressure mounts you feel the cost of all this deception weigh heavily on him. There is almost a sadness to Bob’s life that most of his friends are criminals he is out to take down, the allure of sticking within the deception perhaps almost too great to resist. He is captivating throughout and the main reason to watch all this cliched criminality.
The film sadly does not catch up to Cranston’s stellar work. It isn’t bad, not in the slightest. It is pacy, stylish and authentic. But it’s all so familiar. Nothing surprises. Nothing truly exhilarates. Moments of real tension are fleeting and predictable. Brad Furman is a solid director with a firm control of the material. Similar to his previous film The Lincoln Lawyer, he creates what is the equivalent of an airport thriller; quick characterisation, frequent set-pieces and propulsive plot. (Lincoln however is a personal fave, filled with great performances). The Infiltrator is not quite as effective but still an enjoyable watch. Furman makes a good decision in casting some decent character actors to support.
John Leguizamo plays, well, John Leguizamo, as in hyper-verbal, manic and fun to watch. He brings some much needed energy to proceedings, and in one scene brings a subdued ruefulness when things take a violent turn. Diane Kruger features also as Mazur’s fake wife and she brings an intelligence and grace to the role. You also get a no-nonsense boss in Amy Ryan and the sadly underused but welcome Joe Gilgun. All these performers all help to make the familiarity of the proceedings considerably more palatable.
Verdict: Predictable to a fault but held together by an immense Bryan Cranston and a litany of solid supporting actors. You won’t remember much come the morning but you’ll enjoy it while it lasts.