“You know who the biggest money launderer is in the U.S.?” asks Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt). “I thought it was me,” replies Robert Musella aka Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston), a federal agent who’s deep undercover posing as a money launderer to try to bring down the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in the dramatic film, The Infiltrator.
In 1986 after a successful bust of a drug dealer, FBI agent Bob Mazur approaches his superior with the idea of instead of chasing the drugs to find the criminals they should instead focus on the money and hopefully that will lead them to the big bosses controlling the drugs from Colombia. Mazur creates a new identity from a real deceased person, Robert Musella, and sets up his cover as a slick businessman who can launder the cartels drug money.
Mazur is paired up with fellow agent Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) who will be his contact to the Colombians and who has an inside informant. To further complete his cover and to keep the willing hookers away, Mazur (who is happily married and wants to stay that way) is paired with rookie agent Katy Ertz (Diane Kruger) to pose as Musella’s fiancé. After gaining the Colombian’s trust and avoiding getting killed a few times, Mazur as Musella is finally introduced and begins a partnership with Pablo Escobar’s main lieutenant, Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt). With the help of his two partners, Musella sets up what would become the biggest drug bust in U.S. history.
Based on a true story, The Infiltrator is a stylish, suspenseful crime drama that’s elevated by Bryan Cranston’s performance. Cranston shines as undercover agent Mazur who is determined to bring down not just the local drug pushers but the main Colombian drug lords and goes all out to do just that. Cranston delivers a multi-layered performance as Mazur, the smart and loyal agent who excels at being his alias Musella, the smooth-talking, smiling money launderer who enjoys doing business with the drug lords. He also brings to the screen Mazur as the loving husband and father to his family who unfortunately has to get further away from them to keep them safe. One powerful scene that captures this is when Mazur is out with his wife on their anniversary dinner and a Colombian associate comes over to say hi to Musella. Mazur has to quickly come up with a fake story about who his wife is because the Colombians believe he’s engaged to Kruger’s character. The exchange forces Mazur to drastically change his personality which is shocking and disturbing to his wife. It’s a scene that perfectly demonstrates Cranston’s brilliance as an actor.
Diane Kruger delivers one of her best performances as Ertz the young FBI agent who has never worked undercover but adds so much to Mazur’s cover charming the cartels drug runners and corrupted bankers with her beauty and outgoing personality. Both Cranston and Kruger have solid chemistry together and become close when they get in deeper than any undercover agents have before and have only each other to lean on and depend on.
Benjamin Bratt is very convincing in his portrayal of Roberto Alcaino, the top lieutenant to Pablo Escobar who’s a smart and careful businessman who loves his family, loves to cook, and won’t hesitate to have someone brutally murdered if he suspects them of being a threat to either him or the organization. Some of the best scenes in the film are with Bratt and Cranston doing business together and talking about life and the importance of family.
With a stellar performance by Bryan Cranston, solid writing, and a strong supporting cast, The Infiltrator is an engaging and suspenseful film capturing the dangerous and deadly world of undercover work.
Directed By: Brad Furman
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language throughout, some sexual content and drug material
Running Time: 127 minutes