The Infiltrator

Review by David Jenkins @daveyjenkins

Directed by

Brad Furman

Starring

Amy Ryan Benjamin Bratt Bryan Cranston

Anticipation.

Frankly, this doesn’t look like it’s going to offer up something new.

Enjoyment.

And it really doesn’t. Unlike its undercover hero, plays it very safe.

In Retrospect.

Bry – pick some more interesting, diverse projects willya?

A very nuts and bolts true-life police saga in which Bryan Cranston goes deep undercover to foil a drug cartel.

If there was a bestselling non-fiction book called ‘Second-Whack Police Thrillers for Dummies’, then director Brad Furman has read it cover to cover and inside out. The Infiltrator is every bit as bland as its title would suggest, the moderately glossy “true life” tale of ultra-dedicated FBI man Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) who opts to go full Donnie Brasco in order to bring down a Columbian drug cartel. The big game prize at the end of the hunt is Pablo Escobar himself, but you can’t just take a pot-shot at the king – you’ve got to play the long game.

The process of going undercover – the sensitivities, the details, the worries – is glazed over, as Cranston simply transforms between the edits. There’s no sense of how he builds a persona or slides into character. One sequence in which he’s trading trivia with his pretend wife (Amy Ryan) makes it feel like a film is a quaint caper about two people attempting to sneak into Canada.

It settles into some kind of grove by about the half-way point, where Mazur discovers that not everyone tangentially involved in large-scale narcotic import/export is a low-life shit-weasel who deserves to have the book thrown at them. Close to the top of the tree, he connects with Benjamin Bratt’s Roberto Alcaino and his delightfully gorgeous wife (Elena Anaya). They are cultured and refined. They sup wine from oversized crystal glasses, and chop vegetables (for fun!) instead of calling on a maid or cook to do so. These are just normal folks tangled up in society-damaging vice, maybe to a level they don’t quite comprehend. Whatever, the pair’s fast friendship becomes the nagging sinew that prevents Mazur from making a clean break from his undercover life.

Even when grinding through stock moves like the loco inner-circle wild card who needs to be, ahem, silenced, to the big-collared psychopath who might have twigged on to the ruse, the film never attempts to bring anything interesting into the conversation. The ghost of Walter White looms large over Cranston’s character, an essentially simple, white-bread family man who dares to wade into a world whose manifold dangers he’s ill-prepared to deal with. A more-than-able character actor, let’s hope that it’s sooner rather than later that Cranston finds a creative collaborator who is able match his talents rather than watering them down.

Published 13 Sep 2016

Tags: Bryan Cranston

Anticipation.

Frankly, this doesn’t look like it’s going to offer up something new.

Enjoyment.

And it really doesn’t. Unlike its undercover hero, plays it very safe.

In Retrospect.

Bry – pick some more interesting, diverse projects willya?

Read More

What’s behind our modern obsession with true crime stories?

By Charlie Theobald

News of a dramatisation of the Green River Killer murders got us thinking about the physiological effects of serial thrillers.

Bryan Cranston: ‘We have a warped sense of politics in America’

By Adam Woodward

The Trumbo star cuts loose about why the case of the Hollywood Ten should be viewed as a cautionary tale.

Trumbo

By Emma Simmonds

Bryan Cranston charms his way through this breezy biopic centred around the Hollywood Blacklist scandal.

review

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, LWLies has been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design