Although Cranston gives a top notch performance, The Infiltrator remains just an average movie that struggles with length and pacing but shines due to its impressive cast.
During the 1980’s, cocaine trafficking in the United States was at a high and most of this was thanks to the rise of one man: Pablo Escobar. Escobar, at the height of his career, distributed an estimated 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States. The Infiltrator, director by Brad Furman, tackles the story of U.S. Customs agent Robert Mazur and work to try and take down the operation of Escobar. And while Mazur’s work ultimately led to the arrest of numerous of Escobar’s men, it really only temporarily dented the work of the Medellin Cartel and Pablo Escobar.
Working as a U.S. Customs Service agent, Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) is one of their most trusted agents, being sent undercover to crack down on the growing cocaine epidemic in the United States. The Infiltrator opens up with Mazur, undercover at a bowling alley, in the middle of a sting operation and taking down one guy. While the sting is successful, his wire malfunctions and causes a burn on his chest. Due to the injury, Mazur is given the chance to retire and live at home with his wife and two children.
One night, Mazur is disturbed by one of his colleagues, Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo), at his own home. Abreu, undercover as a low level operator in the organization of Pablo Escobar, wants the help of Mazur to put on the front of a businessman who can help launder money for Escobar’s American operations. Mazur wants nothing to do with Abreu at first but eventually comes around and decides to help try and take down Escobar, going undercover as businessman Bob Musella. To gain the trust of the Escobar operation, Mazur and Abreu have to first impress the lower tier members of the organization before they can even get close to any of Escobar’s most trusted associates.
From the director who brought us The Lincoln Lawyer, The Infiltrator feels just as sleek and smooth…just not as good. While the cast, particularly Cranston and Benjamin Bratt, give strong performances throughout the film, The Infiltrator is plagued by a lengthy run time and some inconsistent pacing. There are moments where it feels like the film is flying by, only to be followed by some unmemorable, momentum stopping sequences that practically kill the film. Which doesn’t work out so well when you’re creating a thriller sort of movie, since the tension is gone when some of the important scenes show up. It seems that when the film focuses on Pablo Escobar, The Infiltrator is at its best. After the dud that was Runner, Runner, it’s nice to see Furman come back and direct a quality film in The Infiltrator with an exceptional cast. Ultimately though, it’s a rather forgettable experience.
The Infiltrator is directed by Brad Furman, written by Ellen Brow Furman, and stars Bryan Cranston, Diane Kruger, Benjamin Bratt, John Leguizamo, Amy Ryan, and Said Taghmoul. The Infiltrator is in theaters now.