July 20, 2016

The Infiltrator Review

John Leguizamo and Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston has been in movies before The Infiltrator (see last year’s Academy Award-nominated turn in Trumbo), but his authoritative turn as undercover federal agent Robert Mazur feels like his star-maker, had he not already been the star of one of the most critically-acclaimed television programs of all time. Still, as his “Bob Musella” goes deeper in to catch Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar the old-fashioned way—follow the money—Walter White gets forgotten. 

The Infiltrator may be a little too common, relying heavily on its “undercover is hard” theme and crime drama tropes, but Cranston invigorates it as often as possible. Even he has trouble making all 127 minutes gripping. A stronger filmmaker than The Lincoln Lawyer’s Brad Furman could have imbued The Infiltrator with more gravitas and distinguished it further from its Scarface/”Miami Vice” connotations, which all that 1980s Miami makes hard. 

But I like Scarface and “Miami Vice,” so The Infiltrator could have chosen worse predecessors to admire. Add audience interest in the unfamiliar Operation C-Chase to Cranston’s performance, and The Infiltrator’s narrative stumbles where characters and money laundering are concerned get even easier to overlook.