Highly suspenseful, The Infiltrator will have you on the edge of your seat. Bryan Cranston brings all the contrasts and contradictions that make him a fascinating actor to watch, into the character of Bob Mazur, undercover cop who goes after the drug lords, corrupt bankers and businessmen of the Medellín Cartel. What makes the film even more chilling is the realization that none of what we see onscreen is a product of the imagination – it all went down, just like that. Directed by Brad Furman, the film is based on Robert Mazur’s memoirs of his years undercover infiltrating the drug cartels.
You can look it all up, and read all about it – but don’t, because the film is so thrilling, you won’t want to miss a moment of the delicious tension.
The film takes the viewer back to the mid-1980s, complete with the Reagan presidency’s war on drugs. Realizing that tracking and seizing drug shipments did not have an impact on the situation because more drugs would always be shipped to replace anything seized by the government, Robert Mazur decided to look at the money trail. After all, that was the method that worked when trying to bring down Al Capone, a figure somewhat reminiscent of Pablo Escobar – gangster, and bootlegger during the Prohibition years, who also sought to soften his violent image through charitable donations to the community. But back to the 80s and the thrills and dangers of cocaine…
In order to infiltrate the drug cartel, Mazur must create a credible identity, and he becomes Bob Musella, a highly successful money launderer. This transformation is the most fascinating, and at times, poignant part of the film. In order to convince the guys that he is one of them, he must truly become one of the guys, doing everything they do. Then, at the end of the day, he comes home to his family. It’s the acting job of a lifetime, because his life depends on it. Cranston is remarkably adept at conveying the nuances of a law-enforcer acting the part of a criminal, the almost imperceptible hesitations and the sheer terror beneath the steely veneer. One also observes the process, as Mazur adapts to his role and fits ever more comfortably into his Musella skin. On some level, befriending the enemy is befriending the enemy. Going undercover is a moral high-wire act, and it’s very hard to maintain the balance.
John Leguizamo is wonderfully sleazy as Mazur’s sidekick, Emir Abreu, who is very into the whole undercover experience, living it up and loving the adrenaline rush. Diane Kruger plays fellow agent Kathy Ertz, and the scenes with Escobar’s lieutenant Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt) and his wife are a suspenseful study in the emotional hazards of the undercover world.
Directed by Brad Furman; Screenplay: Ellen Brown Furman; Cinematography: Joshua Reis; Editors: David Rosenbloom, Luis Carballar, Jeff McEvoy; Production Designer: Crispian Sallis; Costume Designer: Dinah Collin; Music: Chris Hajian; Cast:
Bryan Cranston, Diane Kruger, John Leguizamo, Amy Ryan, Jason Isaacs, Joseph Gilgun, Olympia Dukakis, Yul Vazquez, Art Malik, Carsten Hayes, Benjamin Bratt, Elena Anaya, Jordan Loughran.