The Infiltrator is the true story of a U.S. Customs agent, Robert Mazur who went undercover as a business man who was able to launder hundreds of millions of dollars of drug money from Pablo Escobar. Pablo Escobar in the eighties until his death in 1993 was public enemy number one under President Reagan’s tenure. President Reagan made no attempt to hide his personal hatred of Escobar and his criminal enterprise and Reagan even froze assets of Escobar’s in banks that the government knew was shielding his money. Escobar was, at the height of his criminal career, responsible for upwards of ninety percent of all cocaine that was smuggled into the United States. This was a very, very bad dude.
Special Agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) devises a plan to not only get Escobar, but all of his cohorts. With the help of some well placed informants and his partner, Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) they set the very dangerous trap. It is an elaborate scheme involving governments, muti-billion dollars banks like BCCI and another female partner, Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger) who is an agent of Customs but also is undercover as Mazur’s fiancé. This is one plan that Mazur’s real wife does not think too highly of for obvious reasons. The Infiltrator is populated with numerous characters that are realized enough for audience to become interested in as they pertain to the story, but there is not that much else for these characters to do. They are scumbags that you don’t want to cross.
The Infiltrator is a solid film, I will say that. Cranston is a compelling actor that is brimming over with grit and rage. His gravely voice and the death stare that he gives really creates a dynamic character in Robert Mazur. Cranston and Leguizamo both are outstanding as is Diane Kruger. Each scene where they are weaving the tapestry of deceit to capture their prey is shot in such a way that you will be on the edge of your seat. One wrong move and the whole operation is a bust and the agents, along with their families are worm food, if you get my drift. There are scenes where things go wrong but these are smart characters and they handle these situations the best they can. Mazur and Ellen Sue Brown Furman adapted the script from Mazur’s book and although there is a lot of technical jargon used in finance, they are smart enough to make it accessible to the audience, but still drive the plot in a convincing way. I was jazzed to see Olympia Dukakis back on the big screen in a juicy role as Mazur’s Aunt Vicky. She is a joy to watch.
If I had any complaints about The Infiltrator it is the final act which seems to sputter in its tracks. There is an extravagant wedding planned in which all of the drug pushers and kingpins are invited to attend when Mazur and Ertz are falsely planning to wed. The feds think it would be a good way to catch all of them at once. It is a good finish but it takes a bit to get to it. The supporting cast is decent with Benjamin Bratt playing Roberto Alcaino, a high level drug operative in the Escobar cartel who becomes quite friendly with Mazur. They and their wives form a rather strong bond that makes it hard for the agents to arrest them. There is even a cameo of Michael Pare (Eddie and the Cruisers) who I have seen in a film for a long time. He has two scenes and does some fine acting. I also enjoyed Chris Hajian’s contemplative score. It enhances the struggle of Mazur and his fellow agents who actually become a little friendlier with their druggie counterparts than they should be.
While The Infiltrator is a film worth seeing and Brad Furman’s direction and attention to detail of Mazur’s incredible story is quite notable, this is not a film that will beat out American Hustle, for example. The Infiltrator is a good film but not great. It travels some familiar ground and has some clichés that seem to be a staple with these films such as the long, suffering wife Evelyn Mazur (Juliet Aubrey) who mostly is in a thankless role. She does not do much except look understandably upset. Anne Heche was given more to do in Donnie Brasco, for example. There are a couple of scenes where Aubrey’s Evelyn gets a glimpse of Robert’s world and the film bristles with suspense, but they are few and far between. But overall, The Infiltrator is a good film about people doing the right thing in a very dangerous world. This is a true story and despite its drawbacks, it is fascinating.
The Infiltrator – *** 3/4 out of 5
The Infiltrator – Rated R for language, nudity, graphic violence, drug use, gore and adult situations
The Infiltrator – Run Time is 127 minutes
The Infiltrator is now available on DVD, On Demand and pay subscription services.