‘The Infiltrator’ sits comfortably next to ‘ This Is Spinal Tap’ and ‘The Browning Version.’ 3 films, different in content and style, but, to me, they are joined at the hip.

‘The Infiltrator,’ ‘The Browning Version’ and ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ nut their genres. They define a filmic style with finesse, accuracy and pathos. Humanity, vanity and life’s complexity are all on show, yet not quite hung out to dry.

‘The Browning Version’ portrays the melancholy garnered when reflections upon the value of one’s industry and achievement become swamped by a sense of misplaced loyalties and failure.

‘This Is Spinal Tap’ gelds the rock n’ roll cock rock musician like no other. As a film it rates 5 and a half stars out of 5.

Despite harboring certain minor flaws and clichés ‘The Infiltrator’ is a thoroughly worthwhile addition to its genre, centering upon the elimination of a criminal ring, in this instance, via implanting an undercover agent.

For me, this film works. The music is perfectly placed and never overdone. The acting, headed by ‘Breaking Bad’s’ Bryan Cranston, and powerfully supported by a great ensemble, is always believable and appropriate. The eye for detail re the casting, and the film’s look, is on the money.


Money is what this film is all about. ’10cc’ sing ‘The Things We Do For Love,’ well, that’s nothing compared to the things we do for money. ‘The Things We Do For Love’ lasts a little over 3 minutes. If they put the things we do for money to music, based on this film, it would be operatic in length. The main thing we learn about the breaking down of Escobar’s Colombian crew, as depicted in ‘The Infiltrator,’ is that the criminal world cannot thrive without the support of the legit, straight world, and, to a lesser extent, the other way around.

It is purely coincidental I happened to view this film about banking malpractice, at the very time our 4 major bank’s CEO’s had to endure the hell of enduring a 3 hour grilling at the hands of our politicians. 3 hours for grabbing billions off their customers, all in the name of the bottom line. My most recent film review, ‘8 Days A Week,’ focused on the Fab Four. If only the Major Four were more like the lads from Liverpool. If only!!!

I won’t go into any plot details. It follows the story of federal agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) as he infiltrates his way into the hearts and minds of several of Escobar’s significant business associates.  Mazur’s 1986 alto ego, money launderer Bob Musella goes on one hell of a ride. Chances are, you may already be aware of much that occurred when this castle of cocaine came crumbling down.

‘The Infiltrator’ excels in its understatement and subtlety.   Take a bow Brad Furman, directing a script by your mother, (Ellen Brown Furman,) no matter how talented your mother may be, cannot be easy. In the hands of Sylvester Stallone, gratuitous violence would have swamped any coherent story line. Mel Gibson would not have allowed the threat of violence to go unrealized. A death count in the thousands.

Furman keeps the exposed violence to a minimum. Violence underscores every moment. The potential for violence to breakout at any time is enough to keep you from falling asleep at the wheel.

There is a magnificent incident involving a cake. If only I’d been an extra in that scene. All lovers of chocolate cake should see the movie then indulge in a slice of their favorite Black Forest.

The only flat moments centre on Mazur’s home life. Middle class domesticity can’t compete with the adrenalin buzz found growing on trees in the nefarious realm of the drug lords. Furman, wisely, keeps these moments of domestic (bliss) to a minimum. Each foray into the world of mum, dad, kids, pets and a mortgage is necessary and pushes Mazur’s story along.

There is a wonderful scene where the agent’s real wife meets his undercover fiancé. Much is expressed engaging the power of rationed words. Facial expressions push the dialogue. Furman has learnt well. Less is more.

I was a sucker for ‘The Sopranos.’ I needed my fix of Tony and resented James Gandolfini not reprising Tony Soprano in every other character he portrayed. Ditto Eric Bana in ‘Chopper.’ No way known could Brad Pitt’s Achilles have defeated Bana’s ‘Chopper’ in their battle in ‘Troy.’

‘The Goodfellas’ had Liotta and De Niro. ‘The Godfather,’ Brando and Pacino. ‘Blow’ had Depp. ‘The Infiltrator’ has Cranston. All are magnificent, yet Cranston, due to the bland  look and feel of his characters, Mazur and Musella, does not dominate the screen in the way of the other lead actors. ‘The Infiltrator’ does not demand that of him. There are no puffy cheeked Brando moments. No passionate Pacino outbursts. No decadent Depp, or evil De Niro offerings. His performance more closely matches Liotta’s, but without the dissipation Liotta’s role required.

‘The Infiltrator’ belongs to its masterful direction, superbly backed up by the marvelous ensemble acting.

‘The Infiltrator’ 

Genre: Crime biography

Director: Brad Furman

CAST: Bryan Cranston; Juliet Aubrey; Diane Kruger; John Leguizamo; Joe Gilgun; Michael Pare; Benjamin Bratt; Amy Ryan; Simom Andreu; Ruben Orchandiano; Olympia Dukakis;

Writer: Ellen Brown Furman

Running time   127 minutes

Brad Furman is one of the Producers.

Bryan Cranston is an Executive Producer.

Suggests they both believe in this film.

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