Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bryan Cranston, Diane Kruger, John Leguizamo, Amy Ryan, Jason Isaacs, Joseph Gilgun, Olympia Dukakis, Yul Vazquez, Art Malik, Carsten Hayes, Benjamin Bratt, Elena Anaya, Jordan Loughran
Written by: Ellen Sue Brown, based on a book by Robert Mazur
Directed by: Brad Furman
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language throughout, some sexual content and drug material
Running Time: 127
Date: 07/15/2016

The Infiltrator (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Just Say Dough

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The acting is high-calibre and the story is well-told, but The Infiltrator is more serviceable than extraordinary. Director Brad Furman sometimes copies better films, but also fumbles many scenes via poor choices. Certain moments — long tracking shots accompanied by cool pop songs — recall Martin Scorsese or Brian De Palma at their most stylish, but at other times, Furman tends to fall back on clumsy, shaky, poorly-staged shots.

In the mid-1980s, at the height of the cocaine craze, federal agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) has the option to retire, but decides to go back to work; he goes undercover as a slick money launderer in hopes of getting close to the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. At his side is the unpredictable Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) and the rookie Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger), who poses as Robert's fiancee. After much planning and hard work, Robert gets close to Escobar's high-ranking lieutenant Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt). It looks as if Robert and his team could be close to shutting down a huge illegal operation, but anything, at any time, could go dangerously wrong.

Directorial flaws aside, Furman is at least blessed with a good story, and an interesting character in Robert Mazur, which gives the talented Bryan Cranston (the movie's drug trade vaguely recalling his Breaking Bad) some powerful moments. The supporting cast is not forgotten, either, and the movie satisfyingly fleshes out several other characters, making the entire 1980s criminal canvas that much richer. Of course, The Infiltrator never questions whether all this activity actually did any good, but perhaps that's a subject for another movie.

Broad Green Pictures released a fine-looking Blu-ray, whose picture may seem a bit inky as it strives to preserve the film's grimy, 1970s look and feel. Audio is fine. It includes about 9 minutes of deleted scenes; a 3-minute featurette called "The Three Bobs," about the real person (he appears, in silhouette); and a three-part featurette called "How to Infiltrate" talks about how to be an undercover agent. The disc includes a selection of trailers for other Broad Green features (but not this one). Director Furman and actor Cranston provide a low-key commentary track, and there are the usual scene selections, and optional language and subtitles. DVD and digital copies are not included.

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