Movie review: The Infiltrator
America was awash with drugs and the US government was struggling to stem the tide of cocaine that was being smuggled into the States, mainly through Florida. This period flick oozes class, set in the mid 1980s, when desperate measures were called for, to try to infiltrate the seedy empire of Colombian drug supremo Pablo Escobar.
Take a bow, Infiltrator (Bryan Cranston), ready to do whatever it takes, not only to apprehend Escobar’s henchmen, but also bust the big bankers and fraudulent financiers, who were all only too ready to take their cut off the cocaine. Breaking Bad’s Cranston has had a mixed experience since his award-winning role in the acclaimed TV series, but this movie fits him like one of his slick gangster suits. And, even more alluring, the plot is based on a true story, with a few bloody additions, including a bizarre voodoo scene.
Federal agent Bob Mazur (Cranston) has gone deep undercover to infiltrate Escobar’s drug ring. He’s the facilitator, who will help to disguise the suitcases of cash that come from the deals and convert them into seemingly legitimate business deals. Agent Mazur sashays in smoothly as the slick, money-laundering businessman Bob Musella.
He’s teamed with wisecracking streetwise fellow agent Emir Abreu ( the ebullient John Leguizamo) and also, much to his annoyance, a rookie agent posing as his fiancé Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger). ‘You’re a virgin?’ he queries, as to her career experience, but she proves a valuable asset, even posing as the bride in a glamorous fake wedding, another true element of the story.
Mazur and Ertz befriend Escobar’s top lieutenant Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt) and his wife. Bratt stylishly plays a beguilingly charming criminal, giving some depth and terror, behind the enigmatic smile and things start to get truly tense.
It’s then a game of cat and mouse with Mazur always in danger of setting off one of his own traps. He carries an early Bond-type recorder in a battered briefcase and then navigates the vicious criminal network in which the slightest slip-up could cost him his life.
But Mazur goes on to build a case that leads to indictments of 85 drug lords and the corrupt bankers who cleaned their dirty money. It led to the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, one of the largest money-laundering banks in the world. Their breath-taking arrogance in their dealings is still shocking.
In the fiefdom of Narcos, it’s a class experience on the big screen, a grown-up movie with fine acting, the underbelly of the glamour of the heady drug-fuelled world.
by Liz Kennedy
The Infiltrator (15) lasts 127 mins