“The Infiltrator” is a remarkably intense crime thriller based the book by Robert Mazur and true events occurring during the Reagan Administration targeting the war on drugs. Brian Cranston, Diane Kruger, and John Leguizamo take on lead roles to bring a level of captivating anxiety to the screen that will leave you audibly gasping for air.
Columbian drug lords, money laundering, and cocaine distribution is a multibillion dollar industry and the federal government, with the use of undercover agents, attempt to put a dent in the cartel. Robert Mazur (Cranston) is an undercover agent in sting operations, risking his life every day. When an on-the-job accident occurs, he is eligible to retire and live a normal life with his wife and two young children. His choice, or perhaps “drug of choice,” is to continue one last sting to make a difference. This time, however, things spirals out of apparent control, plunging him deeper and deeper into the sordid drug cartel system. His survival is questionable and drawing the line between life and completing this job hangs in the air.
To say that this film is intense is an understatement. Each scene brings you into a more committed relationship with all of the characters. The imagery as well as the situations are at the very least uncomfortable if not disturbing. The violence is brutally visual yet it isn’t a constant onslaught as with many films. It happens when you least expect it and it’s undeniably horrific. You’re on the edge of your seat as your anxiety level continues to rise, counterbalanced by shallow breathing as you await the outcome. Unless you’re familiar with the actual events of 1985, you really don’t know how this is going to end.
When a film can literally take your breath away, you know it’s intense, but that doesn’t happen without an intelligently written script. “The Infiltrator” seemingly effortlessly takes these real events and turns them into a linear story that is both entertaining and intellectually compelling. The talent of the cast is yet another crucial element. Cranston continues to show his dexterity in acting as he portrays an emotionally complicated, sometimes conflicted, yet dedicated agent, husband, and father. Kruger is posed and confident as her character is flung into a potentially grave situation. Her innate elegance exudes a level of intelligence needed for this role. Benjamin Bratt is type cast, but perfectly so, as the debonair and ruthless crime leader. He’s passionate as Roberto Alcaino, bringing a level of previously unseen humanity to a crime leader who doesn’t balk at killing anyone who betrays him.
The film immediately takes you back to the era of the 80’s with the film’s gritty and grainy texture. Every detail in this film is fine tuned which can be credited to the director, Brad Furman. Flawless is the word that describes each and every level of this movie.
“The Infiltrator” is a powerfully realistic and intensely riveting film that makes you want to escape or at the very least, avert your eyes, but you cannot. Your attention is held captive as you unwillingly need to find out what happens. Skillful performances with a succinct script make this one of the best films of the year.
Opens in theaters July 13, 2016.