Reagan era drug wars are the setting for The Infiltrator. Based on a true story, Federal agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) has been working undercover catching drug dealers, but thinks a more productive way to do it would be to follow the money to the top. He sets himself up as Bob Musella, a businessman that can launder the vast amounts of money involved in the drug trade and begins working his way into the confidence of higher and higher levels of the Columbian cartel. But these are violent people who would have no qualms about not only killing Mazur, but his family as well if he were discovered.
Early in the film Mazur tells his partner Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) that the informants they deal with walk on the dirty side of the street. When they decide to come to the clean side, they still have mud on their feet. It makes us wonder about what happens when Mazur spends time on that dirty side of the street. Will he be able to not be tainted by the filth?
Mazur in the film is a noble man with a noble goal. He is eligible to retire with full benefits, but opts to do one more big operation. He honors his vows to his wife (Juliet Aubrey), but there are other times when he pushes his relationship with her beyond the breaking point. One of the key differences between Mazur and Abreu is that Mazur sees what he is doing as something for the good of the world. Perhaps Abreu does as well, but admits that the undercover work they do is his “drug of choice”.
Along with another agent posing as his fiancée (Diane Kruger), he becomes close with one of Pablo Escobar’s top lieutenants, Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), who treats him like family. Mazur manages to become a prime customer at the Bank of Commerce and Credit International, becoming connected with high ranking officials within the bank. BCCI claimed to be a “full service bank” for its special customers. The bankers talk openly about the ways they can make the money untraceable. These are not the lowlife drug pushers he has dealt with in the past. These are people with prestige, position, and power.
That world of power that Mazur moves into in his work laundering the cartel’s money is one filled with hubris. At one point we see an official at BCCI addressing a meeting, speaking of the divine blessing they receive in the form of great wealth as though it is their due. He goes so far to claim they get rich because they “have the humility to receive it”. What makes this a bit more than your typical cops and robbers movie is the sense of bringing down the proud and powerful. While the evil in this film includes those who act violently and supply drugs that ruin lives, the real villains we meet are those who just want a very lucrative piece of that pie and don’t care what dirt or blood may be on the money they handle. Again we go back to Mazur’s early comment about muddy shoes. For all the Italian suits and fancy jewelry people may wear in the film, that sense of a dirt that will not wash off reminds us that the things we do may leave stains that others may not see, but will never really wash away.
Photos courtesy of Broad Green Pictures