“The Infiltrator” is a 2016 crime drama starring Bryan Cranston as undercover U.S. Customs agent, Robert Mazur, who vies to take down Pablo Escobar’s drug empire. An accountant in a previous life, Mazur targets the kingpin by following and pretending to launder his dirty money. The film works on multiple levels; Cranston is a master when it comes to acting and visually there are some really strong moments, especially in the drug-fueled 1980s nightclubs. Also, I was truly surprised by how funny and humanizing John Leguizamo is as Emir Abreu, Cranston’s partner. However, there are some major flaws with “The Infiltrator” that keep it from being greater than the sum of its parts.
Full Speed Ahead
Most notably, Cranston’s character tends to make some confusing decisions which are never even touched upon—for example, he goes home to his wife and children multiple times while also being undercover. If he was followed home, that would be the end of him and everyone he loves. This decision is puzzling and never even discussed; it feels like something that was developed for dramatic tension, but is never built upon.
Perhaps it is the light or non-existent analysis of these dramatic moments that make “The Infiltrator” pack a weak punch. At two hours in length, the movie has a lot to say and there is no space to ruminate on anything. For a movie about money laundering, the rapid pace is certainly appreciated, but it doesn’t add any weight or danger to the situation. Even more jarring, Cranston acts phenomenally and his effort is wasted because the circumstances for his acting are quite ordinary—in fact, it seems a lot of this film was left on the cutting room floor. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me because everything in the film is strong, it just never has the time to marinate.
I think you should certainly see this movie; it is good and not great, but Cranston is well worth the price of admission. If you are expecting “Narcos” you will be disappointed, but “The Infiltrator” is a solid, if forgettable, undercover crime drama that will certainly entertain you for two hours.