THE INFILTRATOR — Review by Susan Granger

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It’s a new twist on a familiar story, as a law-abiding everyman becomes entangled with Pablo Escobar’s Medellin drug cartel. Back in 1986, Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) was a devoted husband and father, working as a U.S. Customs agent in Tampa, Florida. In the opening scene, he’s about to make an undercover drug deal in a bowling alley when the microphone strapped to his chest overheats, the excruciating pain almost blowing his cover. Read on…

Although his injury makes him eligible for paid retirement, Mazur refuses. Determined to make a significant dent in the “War on Drugs,” he decides to go after the real kingpins who control the massive cocaine importation to the United States.

“Don’t follow the drugs,” he says. “Follow the money.”

Calling himself Bob Musella, he poses as a flamboyantly successful money-launderer, cleverly duping Colombian distributors and their corrupt bankers, like suavely scheming Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt) and his wife, Gloria (Elena Anaya).

Tension mounts as an elaborate sting operation takes form, particularly when Bob’s leather briefcase with its cleverly hidden tape recorder unexpectedly pops open at just the wrong time.

Based on Mazur’s memoir, it’s adapted by Ellen Brown Furman and directed by her son, Brad Furman (“The Lincoln Lawyer”), who elicits authentically chilling performances from Bryan Cranston (“Trumbo,” TV’s “Breaking Bad”) and John Leguizamo, as his enigmatic informant/sidekick, Emir Abreau.

Furman subtly uses the glamorous beauty of German actress Diane Kruger, who played Marie Antoinette in “Farewell, My Queen” and Helen in “Troy,” to dazzle the gangsters as Musella’s fabricated fiancée – although she looks nothing like real-life rookie officer Kathy Ertz, whose inconspicuous, girl-next-door quality is obvious during the credits.

But there are other, better, movies about the international drug trade, like “Traffic,” “Rush” and “Escobar: Paradise Lost.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Infiltrator” is a suspenseful 6, a stylishly slick espionage thriller.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.