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.