The Infiltrator – Film Review
Director: Brad Furman
Writers: Ellen Sue Brown (screenplay) (as Ellen Brown Furman), Robert Mazur (based on the book on)
Stars: Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger, Amy Ryan, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor
Robert Mazur (Cranston) is a US Customs official who works undercover, busting mid ranking drug dealers in Flordia. He decides on a new track and starts to follow the money instead of the drugs. That is when he finds something big. It is a money laundering scheme that runs right to the top of the drugs trade and eventually to Pablo Escobar himself. Robert starts to immerse himself in a world where one mistake could cost him his life.
This film is directed by Brad Furman, who is known for directing The Lincoln Lawyer. His 2013 film Runner Runner starring Ben Affleck was widely panned by the critics (8% on Rotten Tomatoes!) but this is a return to form and probably his finest work to date. It gives a fascinating view of the drugs world in Florida in the 80s. Those that are observant amongst us will already have noticed that Cranston’s character name is also listed as the writer. That is because this is based on a true story and on Mazur’s book of the same name. Mazur continued to work undercover until he retired eight years ago and is still cautious about showing his photo in public.
With Narcos being the binge watch of choice at the moment, is it possible the viewing public have enough of Escobar and such tales of Colombian drug wars? The simple answer is probably not. This is quite a different world from the Netflix series and the whole story is told in just over two hours, while Netflix have recently commissioned a third and fourth series of Narcos!
One of the most fascinating things from an Irish perspective is that this film has Tom Vaughan-Lawlor in a major role, sharing screen time with Cranston. It is the first major American film he has been involved with and he does a good job in this role, even if he is not allowed to show his full repertoire.
The only real failing of this film is that it all happens a little quickly. These sort of stories are better when stretched out over a longer period, to add to the drama. There were also a number of liberties taken with the truth, which again is not usual. The real Mazur never actually met Escobar, whereas this version could not resist featuring the most famous drug baron of the period. There is an unusual focus on the duplicity of the undercover agent, and their qualms about incriminating their new ‘friends’ which is something quite new.
While this has moments of high drama, it is often quite a slow burn. It does offer a superb cast though. This is Cranston at his best and it is a character he can really engage with, showing the lengths he would go to, to prove he is who he claims to be. He is not alone with John Leguizamo and Amy Ryan also creating fascinating characters. This is a very enjoyable tale of drugs, friendship and power that will keep the crowds happy on a Saturday night at the Omniplex.