U.S. Customs agent Robert Mazur realized that rather than picking up drug dealers and smalltime criminals, that he needed to track the money to stop the drug trade. But what he never realized was how far down the rabbit hole he would have to go to catch the men he sought. In The Infiltrator, audiences are taken on the agent’s ride through the drug wars of the 1980s, into Pablo Escobar’s money-laundering deals, thanks to a dominating performance by Bryan Cranston.
Mazur (Cranston) takes on the cartel as Bob Musella, offering his services to launder money for Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), often with the help of the shifty Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) and his fake fiancee, Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger). Under the direction of Brad Furman (Runner, Runner; The Lincoln Lawyer), the documented trail of Mazur’s case leads us through violence, intrigue, and deception. Often provided through cold observation, the film isn’t always exciting, but it’s always dangerous.
Tied into the underpinning of the storyline is Mazur’s struggle to not mess up, to not give himself away. It’s incredibly alarming – in moments like Mazur’s anniversary celebration with his real-life wife (Juliet Aubrey), who he must pass off as his secretary when a criminal associate shows up unexpectedly. The way in which Mazur must ‘play the part’ scares his wife, but the truth is that he must always be alert, even in the moments when he thinks he’s safe. That is the price of his efforts.
In a conversation, the depth of his dive into depravity is laid out by a would-be informer. “If it wasn’t for the church, this whole place [America] would die. We all pray for a good, clean life, but we live like animals,” complains the man moments before his death. The thin line between humanity and barbarity, between safety and death, between good and evil – The Infiltrator rides that razor sharp moment throughout. And the discrepancy is clear on both sides – while we’re clearly on the side of Mazur from a narrative perspective, the Columbian drug dealers pray, too.
Well acted and incredibly thought-provoking, The Infiltrator asks us to consider what ‘north’ our moral compass points to, and asks us to consider whether or not we’re willing to get dirty to see justice done.