The Infiltrator is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Robert Mazur, who was a U.S Customs Agent in Tampa, Florida.
After a drug bust, U.S. Customs is rethinking its tactics. They want the big fish – the Medellín Cartel, and more specifically, Pablo Escobar, because the cartel is smuggling hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine into the U.S. They poke fun at Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, and realize they should focus on the financial side of the equation.
Bob Mazur (Brian Cranston) usually works undercover, and on his own, but the boss, Bonni Tischler (Amy Ryan), says there’s too much at stake, so he can’t. She assigns Agent Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo), and, as you’d expect, he’s the antithesis of Robert. The two work combine their efforts and set up Bob as a fake money launderer for the NYC mob, named Robert Musella, who specializes in real estate.
Emir works his contacts, and sets up a low level meeting with the local cartel people. Bob gets a prisoner released who can help with some of the more sordid details of the business he’s pretending to be in. After a bit of back and forth, they all start doing business together. The cartel people bring in a private British bank, who they have been using, and Bob ingratiates himself into their business, too.
There are a lot of players involved, but Bob is documenting as much as possible, recording conversations, and so on. After a particularly successful deal, Bob is presented with a hooker, and he refuses her, being that he is married. At the scene, though, he claims he’s engaged, and that forces Agent Tischler to introduce another agent into the mix to play the fiancee – Kathy Ertz (Dianne Kruger). Bob and his wife-to-be are introduced to a high-ranking officer within the cartel – Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), who, in turn, introduces Kathy to his wife Gloria, and they bond over the upcoming nuptials.
The situation is very volatile. Cross the cartel, and suffer extreme consequences. At one point, Bob is flown somewhere, and is “vetted”, but it’s done in a fickle, yet scary fashion. There are quite a few twists and turns that have to be navigated properly or they will all suffer an extremely horrible fate.
The amazing facet of this movie is that it’s based on real events. I do want to know more, and such information is readily available. I gather that there were some simplifications of the plot, perhaps for the sake of moviemaking, but they weren’t too blatant. Where they implied that the operation involved just a handful of people, there were more than a few agents working in the background to make this happen.
The story gets a bit convoluted, but it holds together. The tension is palpable, and builds through to the end of the film. Brian Cranston proves, once again, that he’s an incredible actor, as are the rest of the cast. John Leguizamo plays close to type, but there was an unpredictability to his character that shined through. Amy Ryan continues to impress me in these peripheral roles she’s taken recently, and Dianne Kruger played her part well. There were several scenes in the film that weren’t truly necessary for the movie, but necessary to help understand the characters. There were two scenes, in particular, that really helped you to understand the characters involved, and I was pleased that they took the time to include them in the movie. It really elevated the film, for me.
The movie itself isn’t the sort of film you expect to see in the Summer, because it’s a heavy film. I have to admit I had serious reservations about seeing it, since it was released now, but it surpassed what I was expecting. There is serious violence, the kind you’d expect to see in a movie about drug trafficking, but they don’t dwell on it.
I do recommend this film, pretty strongly.