The Infiltrator Review

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As we’ve learned from Netflix’s “Narcos,” Pablo Escobar is not a person you want to mess with. There are plenty of stories out there involving Escobar and Robert Mazur’s book “The Infiltrator” is just one of the many stories that are out there. Brad Furman and his mother, Ellen Brown Furman, have come together to adapt Furman’s book for the big screen. Is The Infiltrator a compelling enough story to rise above the typical genre fare?

Fortunately, The Infiltrator is a visual “page turner” that will suck you into its story despite its obvious shortcomings. These shortcomings are thankfully alleviated by the incredible performances of the entire cast.

The Infiltrator follows Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston), an accountant-turned-U.S. Customs Service agent who decides to go up against Florida’s biggest drug dealer, Pablo Escobar. He realizes that to get to the top he needs to follow the money. In order to get the money, he goes undercover as Bob Musella. Alongside him is Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) and Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger) and together they must infiltrate the cartel and take down those responsible for the drugs in America.

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There are many adaptations out there, both television and film, that’s revolved around Pablo Escobar’s infamous drug cartel. The latest iteration, The Infiltrator, seemingly checks off every cliché in the genre. A cop with a family that does it by the book and his partner that doesn’t? Check. The wife who wants his husband to retire? Check. You’ve seen this film plenty of times before. But what elevates the film above these clichés are the connections that Mazur creates when he finally breaks through the top of the cartel ladder. As much as Mazur plays by the books, he still gets invested in the lifestyle more than one should. He walks a fine line and at some points you can’t tell what side he’s on.

Another thing you need to realize is that the film is first and foremost, a character drama. There isn’t a lot of explosive violence or gun fights, just a lot of serious dialogue and tense moments. The film’s content and drama slowly entice the audience along as we get immersed into the crazy undercover lifestyle of Bob Mazur. But there is a deliberately slow pacing that Furman employs in the film. There will be times where the slow pacing will become a drag because there are a lot of scenes where the characters provide forced exposition.

Despite the film being incredibly familiar, The Infiltrator still feels different from the rest of the pack. There aren’t any young, suave undercover cops to be found here which is okay because you have Bryan Cranston. Cranston showcases the versatility that he’s rightfully praised for. He aptly balances the layers, depths, and necessary nuances to portray his real-life counterpart. One can only imagine what the battle would be like if Bob Mazur went up against Walter White.

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Not to be outdone is the rest of the cast. John Leguizamo, who is absolutely electric as Mazur’s partner, Emir Abreu. He gives one of the most colorful and finest performances of his career. Diane Kruger is eloquently solid as Kathy Ertz. She’s able to match Cranston’s versatility with her lived in sensual undercover role and the ability to switch back to her professional side like a flip of a switch. The professional chemistry between Cranston and Kruger is palpable.

Although underused, Benjamin Bratt is charismatic and fearsome as Pablo Escobar’s lieutenant, Roberto Alcaino. Even though he’s supposed to be the villain of the film, Bratt is able to be charismatic enough to have audiences forget that he’s still ruthless. Yet there are the little nuances that Bratt shows that will still remind you that he is not a person to double-cross.

Even though The Infiltrator doesn’t change much in its formulaic genre storytelling, it’s still a compelling piece of work. The wonderful performances, gritty period look, and gripping character drama immerse you in the film. In the end, you’ll be looking to revisit the life of Pablo Escobar again.

Rating: 3.5/5 atoms
NR 3_5 Atoms - B-

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1442 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.