Review of "The Infiltrator (Blu-ray)"

published 04/02/2017 | Jarisleif
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"Infiltrating the Infiltrator"

The Infiltrator welcomes you to his world

The Infiltrator welcomes you to his world

The Infiltrator (2016)


Directed by: Brad Furman

Writing Credits: Ellen Brown Furman, Robert Mazur

Produced by: Paul M. Brennan, Brad Furman, Miriam Segal, Don Sikorski

Genre: Crime | Drama

Length: 127 minutes

Certificate: 15

IMDb Rating: 7.1

Starring: Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger


The film starts with stills of surveillance footage. We see data banks, those big old clunky mainframes that were popular in the 1980s that held somewhere around a gigabyte in storage. So big that they took up and entire room, and needed dozens of cooling fans the size of satellite dishes. We also see piles and piles of Benjamins ($100 notes) in suitcases. There is a hand-drawn outline of the United States, with pickup points for money laundering. Cities are not named, but I'd take a guess at Miami, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia are the main candidates. Just when you think the fun has ended, some text appears on the screen! "During the 1980s, the Medellin Cartel smuggled 15 tons of cocaine a week, worth more than $400 million, into the United States. The majority entered the country through Southern Florida." Then it tells us my worst fear. My geography is Brad Pitt. It's not Miami, it's Tampa Bay. The year is 1985, and this is "The Infiltrator". And it's based on a true story! Rush's "Tom Sawyer" plays in the background, as we get our first live pictures. I'm not really sure what the relevance of a Canadian band is when we're in southern United States, but I'm sure someone will know. Unless they all live there now. That's a possibility, I suppose. "The Infiltrator" is based on an autobiography by a special agent of US Customs, named Robert Mazur. In the 1980s, Mazur went undercover in an attempt to infiltrate the infamous Colombian drug lord, Pablo Escobar's organisation, and everything it stood for. Mazur was an agent with the IRS, which, as you can imagine, was not the kind of bureau that you would expect to see go after a guy like Escobar. That was Mazur's life, and this is his story.

Unfortunately, you are not in a position to dictate terms to Don Pablo.

Bryan Cranston can't do anything wrong these days, can he? The actor stayed under the radar for so long, yet appeared in a number of films and shows throughout the 1980s and 1990s. I suppose it was his role as Hal in "Malcolm in the Middle" that put Cranston in the limelight, but anyone who's ever seen "Breaking Bad" (and who hasn't?) will have quickly forgotten what Hal and "Malcolm…" represented. Quite simply, "Breaking Bad" is probably the best show of the 21st century. It had an excellent script and some fine acting talent in Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, and of course, Cranston as Walter White. Forget "The Walking Dead", "Game of Thrones" or any other show you can think of, "Breaking Bad" is at the top of the pile. Of course, the massive success that Walter White brought Bryan Cranston could always spell trouble for the actor, as some often find it impossible to find work to the standard they're used to. Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer) experienced it after "24", Mark Hammill (Luke Skywalker) felt it with "Star Wars", and you could quite easily argue that every James Bond actor in history has suffered from the curse, not least of which George Lazenby, who did nothing of note after his so-called failed outing as Britain's No.1 spy. For the record, I thought "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was a very good Bond film, which was panned by critics purely because Lazenby had the unenviable task of replacing Sean Connery. At the time of writing, "Breaking Bad" had been done and dusted for three years, and only time will tell if Cranston can recapture what is undoubtedly the crowning glory on his acting resume. That said, his dual roles here as Robert Mazur and Bob Musella are played with conviction. Cranston has done this before, of course, as the afore-mentioned Walter White / Heisenberg, but here he's allowed to take it a step further.

In my business, nothing good ever comes in the absence of trust

The British contingent is well-represented here, and it's no surprise to see the likes of Daniel Mays, Andy Beckwith and Juliet Aubrey all having parts. However, there comes a time when you just know a Brit has cracked Hollywood. That moment came with Joe Gilgun's first scenes in the film. The scenes are not Oscar material, but Gilgun has that presence that comes with years of experience, even though he has very little. His American accent is just as good as his Lancastrian accent, and as a Lancastrian who lives in America, I can personally vouch for his dialect. Over the years since 2004 I have had no choice but to accentuate, but Gilgun hasn't had that long to do this and he seems to have taken to it like the proverbial duck to water. There are times where Brits have got the American accent completely wrong, and times when they have been spot on. As much as I like Ray Winstone's work, his attempt in "The Departed" was awful. Give me the hardened cockney accent any day of the week as far as Winstone is concerned. Gerard Butler and Ewan McGregor both have also had nightmares with the US accent, dipping back in to their native dialect. Of those that have hit all the right notes, Hugh Laurie stands out with his performance as Dr. Gregory House in "House". If you were to switch it around, I thought John Lithgow was amazing as Winston Churchill in "The Crown". Not only was the accent nailed, but he even sounded like Churchill. The worst? Is anything as bad as Kevin Costner in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves"?

I'm an undercover narcotics agent, I sit with murderers and made men and I lie.

I can understand the problem Robert Mazur has while leading his double life. Sometimes he doesn't know which Bob he's supposed to be, and that can be a dangerous game to play. While he understands the implications, he can't help but have his real life on his mind while doing business as Bob Musella, and vice-versa. Without spoiling the plot, a scene comes to mind in which Mazur is having a birthday meal with his real wife, when someone from his alternate life spots him. Quickly switching character, Musella then launches a tirade on the waiter, and all hell breaks loose. Fortunately, Mazur's wife knew about his undercover role and played along, but you could see that even she was shocked at the man her husband had turned into. Reversing the role, there are a few instances where you can see the cogs turning in Musella's head as he ponders his real life, and what it means to be trapped in a world where only a few select people know your real existence. I would have thought, though, that going undercover was something an agent's wife would not be privy to, for fear of some crucial information being inadvertently leaked. People like to gossip, and I can only hope that the husbands of my hotel housekeepers are not undercover agents, because those girls gossip more than any people I've ever known!

I do not do business under threat.

Here is what we could very easily call a slow-burner. It's a film that keeps you interested without peaking too early, and one that knows exactly what strings to pull. Of course, there are ups and there are downs, but it goes along at a very steady pace, dragging you in that little bit further with every scene. The acting is as good as you would expect from a film of this nature, and I thought that Brad Furman showed maturity in his directing. The American only had three previous films under his belt, but brought a steely edge to the progression of the picture. A lot of film directors tend to not take chances when picking and choosing what they're going to direct, but Furman jumped in feet first and grabbed "The Infiltrator" by the proverbial horns. There are many films released in 2016 that people will put ahead of this film as being better. Personally, I don't think there was anything else that came close, as far as Hollywood goes. I would argue that "I, Daniel Blake" may trouble it for my number one of the year from what I've read so far, but I haven't yet (as of writing) seen it.
The Blu-ray quality is magnificent, with excellent detail when viewing people's faces, for example. If watching on a 4K TV, the quality upscales to near 4K resolution to make an even more stunning picture. This is how Blu-ray should look. Or Blu-ray that doesn't have a bunch of CGI in it, anyway. Sound quality is very good, also. Full, big and boomy, just like you would get in a cinema. Or until your neighbours tell you to turn it down a bit because the walls are shaking and their cat is involuntarily bouncing up and down on the floor. Special features, here we go again with big movie companies not giving value for money. You get a commentary with Brad Furman and Bryan Cranston, a handful of deleted scenes, and a short look at the characters Cranston played in the film. Topping it off is a short on what was needed to make the film work from actors to the real life people involved. And that's it. But yeah, go ahead and see "The Infiltrator" if you want something other than comic book heroes, reboots, or remakes. You won't regret it one bit.

My rating: 8.1/10

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Comments on this review

  • jo-1976 published 26/02/2017
    Great review
  • stacie17 published 25/02/2017
    Huge E x
  • raspberry_ripple published 10/02/2017
    E!
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Product Information : The Infiltrator (Blu-ray)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

DVD Region: Blu-ray

EAN: 5051892204958

Video Category: Feature Film

Actor(s): Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, Benjamin Bratt, Diane Kruger, Yul Vazquez

Classification: 15 years and over

Director(s): Brad Furman

Production Year: 2016

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