Bryan Cranston continues to cement his reputation with another study study in character that means his face alone on the poster is enough to sell the film and The Infiltrator is no different. Real life stories can often be more compelling than any fiction and The Infiltrator is one of those. Set in the early 80’s this casts him as Robert Mazur, a real life US Customs official involved with undercover drug operations where we first see him at a bowling alley leering at waitresses and generally acting the opposite to his happily married devoted father. In fact you can’t help but feel that these real life undercover cops must have enrolled at RADA before becoming cops.
It’s after this that he returns to work with his team and partnered with John Leguizamo who seems forever to be cast as a slightly irritating, fast talking Hispanic, and who he doesn’t really care for especially when his apparent splash dash work ethic almost gets him killed. Mazur decides that to get the big players in the drug world they need to follow the money and he sets himself up as a middle man money launderer and very quickly they find themselves going up the chain of Colombian drug dealers to the top dog himself, Pablo Escobar.
It’s Cranston dealing with the dual roles of money launderer that conflicts his own family responsibilities and especially his wife’s concern at the danger of what he’s involved in. His marriage is further strained when, having excused himself from a sexual favour telling the dealers that he’s about to get married, requires his department to lands him with a rookie undercover cop as his fiancé. It’s a facade he also has to maintain with the upper echelons of the drug gangs too and the relationship that he forms with them that further conflicts with him knowing he must ultimately betray that friendship for the greater good. An experienced undercover agent he may be but there are moments when he seems in so deep that this may be a job that he may not survive.
Ultimately all the leads in the film are playing a role – the cops playing criminals and the criminals adopting the facade of respectable business men. Cranston is as good as ever and there is a great support from both Olympia Dukakis and Jason Isaacs neither of which we see enough of these days and this serves to remind just how good they are in even the smallest of roles.
Perhaps most surprising about all of this is just how complicit several banks were in the whole saga and how content they were to handle the huge sums of money despite being fully aware of where the money had come from. It’s a final end credit that depresses most with just how much illicit drug money is still sloshing about from the drug trade. At times it’s part ‘Donnie Brasco’, part ‘Carlito’s Way’ which is no bad thing.
Here’s the trailer: