I tried to go into The Infiltrator blind, like a perfect critic, but I ended up reading the IMDB page for both a brief plot analysis and actors. I’m sorry, I failed, I’m not perfect.
The film is directed by Brad Furman, who did Runner Runner and The Lincoln Lawyer, both vary different films in terms of quality and subject matter. Given the cast involved, I certainly hope this is more of a Lincoln Lawyer than a Runner Runner.
Shit, why is this movie not an alliterative title? He could have a thing going. I, Infiltrator would work. Or Informative Infiltrator, that would be fun. But we couldn’t do Informant + Infiltrator, that is too close to just The Informant.
Just looking at the image makes me feel 10 monies more worth.
Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston), totally a real dude, was a U.S. customs agent who worked in Tampa, Florida in the 1980s. He was one of those guys trying to get Pablo Escobar, to stop so much cocaine from getting in to the US, because Reagan said so. He is getting old and could retire, but he finally has a good idea to “Get these guys!” for good. Despite what his wife (Juliet Aubrey) wants.
He is going to follow the money. Which sure, seems obvious now, but apparently his idea was cutting edge. He got approval from the boss (Amy Ryan) and has to team up with Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo), a kind of crummy agent but who currently has an undercover role in the organization to get him in.
Robert just has to pretend to be a money launderer. Once he gets in the ground level of the business, like with the Gonzalos (Rubén Ochandiano, Simón Andreu), he can then get to Javier Ospina (Yul Vazquez), then a big name like Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt) and his wife (Elena Anaya)! Speaking of wives, Robert said he only had a fiance, so they had to bring in an agent (Diane Kruger) to pretend to be that as well in order to keep his story straight.
Another agent is played by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, some corrupt bankers by Art Malik, Saïd Taghmaoui, and Tim Dutton. Olympia Dukakis is his aunt, Joseph Gilgun his actual bad guy body guard, and Michael Paré with a smaller role.
I was just wondering why that “guy from Miss Congeniality” didn’t have a bigger career. Now look at him, drug lord!
Halfway through the movie I still wasn’t sure what I thought about it. My mind was going everywhere. The acting was good from Cranston, Leguizamo, Bratt, and Kruger, yes. But the story felt like it was full of annoying cliches that kept getting on my nerves.
Of course, given that this is a “True Story” I don’t know how many of the cliches ended up being real or not. But one that really bugs me is that since The Sopranos, it seems that every drama story needs to have extreme marital tension or drama, potentially up to divorce. From the text at the end of the movie, it looked like all of that was completely added in for shitty tension and it gets old.
We had silly lines like the wife needing a promise that this would be the last mission (of course, because he is old and we need the movie) and Cranston becoming someone completely different (despite going undercover a lot). There was a terrible scene involving a wedding cake that just was cringe inducing and took me out of the film, it just seemed so silly to drive a simple point home.
Dumb cliches and scenes aside, the ending really drove this movie home into something better. The event where they were able to get a lot of the criminals under one roof was very emotional. They turned these “bad guys” into real people, with families, reason for working with drugs and more. And they all got busted equally. It didn’t drive home the point enough that the War on Drugs in itself is a complete failure, but it makes sense that Robert Mazur wouldn’t mention that in a book where he is the hero.
Pretty good acting and a strong ending. Maybe the film is a bit too long with some cringey moments, but overall it was really enjoyable and a good couple of hours.
3 out of 4.