Directed by Brad Furman | Written by Ellen Brown Furman based on the book by Robert Mazur | 127 min | ▲▲△△△
It’s hard to believe the true story of a 1980s deep undercover agent for the US government who managed to disable Pablo Escobar’s drug empire through money laundering and making friends with the right people wouldn’t be a compellingly thrilling tale, but it somehow manages to feel a little rote. The Infiltrator is too stylishly well made to discount, offering some of the hallmarks of the genre, but one that’s been better-served by films like Cocaine Cowboys, Traffic, Blow, Miami Vice, and Sicario.
Bryan Cranston plays Bob, who goes from one undercover assignment to the other, despite the danger to his wife (Juliet Aubrey) and kids. This current gig is one that demands he get chummy with the bottom-feeder drug dealers all the way up to the right-hand-man of the Colombian drug lord (Benjamin Bratt), with help from a couple of fellow agents (John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger, and Olympia Dukakis). There’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-them support from the likes of Amy Ryan, Jason Isaacs, and Michael Paré, all of whose presences add to the production’s quality. The look is dark and sexy, the wardrobe deeply period appropriate.
But somehow it fails to thrill. Maybe it’s just that that we’ve seen too many of these kinds of films—both the utterly fictional and the ones based on actual events—that tales of violence in the drug trade, and the collusion of the US government, one their own isn’t quite enough to distinguish them. It needs more heft in the direction and a script that feels like it’s going somewhere.