In the Ronald Regan led United States of 1985 there was a huge influx of Columbian cocaine being brought into the country. DEA and other government agencies spent considerable resources trying to catch these guys and more importantly the big cheeses like Pablo Escobar. It is an era that seems to have peaked the interested of filmmakers and audiences as there seems to a rash of films or television series about it. Narcos is a big hit for Netflix, so others are jumping on the bandwagon hoping to cash in. The Infiltrator, directed by Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer, Runner Runner), deals with the same subject matter though told from the good guys’ perspective rather than Escobar’s.
After his stint on the family comedy Malcolm in the Middle Bryan Cranston has broken out of that mould and demonstrated that his talent is wide and varying. The man has proven he can pretty much play any sort of role. This time he is a customs agent who is trying to catch some big Columbian fish. He is the type of actor who is believable here as the loving father/family man as well as a high end criminal/money launderer. Whatever he undertakes Cranston makes it his own.
The U.S. Customs Agency like many others at the time has declared war on the Columbian drug movers and dealers. Custom Agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston – from television’s Breaking Bad) is eligible to retire with full pension, but cannot stop just yet. He promises his wife Evelyn (Juliet Aubrey – The Constant Gardner, Iris) one more case. Little does he know that this last case will be a doozy.
Mazur is paired with the wild Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo – (Ice Age: Collision Course, Moulin Rouge) and tasked with going undercover as a top notch money launderer who will peddle his services to the Columbian cartel. They want to shake out every rug in order to see who will fall out. From within Pablo Escobar’s operation they manage to come in contact with highly placed people like Gonzalo Mora Jr. (Ruben Ochandiano – Biutiful, Broken Embraces), Javier Ospina (Yul Vazquez – Captain Phillips, Little Fockers) and Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt – Miss Congeniality, Ride Along 2).
This is a completely different type of assignment for the agent who usually deals with accountancy type stuff not deep undercover. Mazur is even assigned a young female agent, Kathy Etz (Diane Kruger – Inglourious Basterds, Troy), who poses as his fiancé. Threat is everywhere and the risk, to himself and his family, is great. Trouble also crops up when he starts getting close to the men he is supposed to bring down.
Based on a true story this film has its moments. Most of them are due to the acting of Bryan Cranston and the supporting cast. What takes some of the steam out of the proceedings is the overly complex story. Characters come and go with very little explanation causing things to get a little muddled at times. There is also nothing in it that you have not seen before meaning if you have watched one or more films about the U.S. government’s battle against the Medellin cartel then nothing here will come as a shock. What it does have plenty of is tension and moments where you will be biting your nails.