Very Little Tension in ‘Infiltrator’

Infiltrator_(2016_film)Bryan Cranston really needs to stop being in movies that don’t deserve him…

“The Infiltrator” is the true story of 1980s US Customs agent Robert Mazur (Cranston), who infiltrated (eh!) Pablo Escobar’s money-laundering organization. Diane Kruger, Benjamin Bratt, John Leguizamo and Amy Ryan also star as Brad Furman directs.

Oscar nominee Bryan Cranston (ugh, that feels so good to type) is one of the best actors we have today, but all too often he is better than the movies he stars in. From last year’s “Trumbo” to “Get a Job” and “Total Recall,” Cranston seems to have a knack for stealing the show in average-to-subpar films, and that is again the case with “Infiltrator.”

This film is something we have seen before: government agent goes undercover to take down a drug dealer and winds up hurting his family life and getting too attached to those he’s trying to take down. We’ve even seen the inner-workings of Pablo Escobar’s operation with the Netflix series, “Narcos.” So when handling a plot as familiar with this it is important to add unique style and intensity to it, but “Infiltrator” fails to do that.

Cranston heads a solid cast, and they all turn in fine performances. He and Diane Kruger have a nice chemistry between them playing a fake couple as part of their cover; they are both in over their heads and rely on each other for support, and the little moments do pay off. The rest of the actors do a good job including John Leguizamo, whom I am normally not a fan, although many of them are glorified cameos or take a seat on the backburner at some point throughout the film.

The biggest problem I have with “The Infiltrator” is there is a lot going on but almost none of it is intense, much less interesting. For a movie involving the drug war, drug dealers and undercover government ops, there is actually very little tension in this film. Cranston will get a bloody package mailed to his house in one scene and then calmly drinking champagne the next, and his whole real-life family drama is as cookie-cutter as they come.

The one sequence that is very well done and actually quite tense is the climax. It begins with a nice one-take tracking shot through a hotel before all coming to a head, and even if it isn’t enough to justify seeing the film, I do have to give it props for creating such a successful ending. But it only makes me wish and wonder why the entire film could not have been made with such detail and execution.

“The Infiltrator” features an expectedly good performance from Bryan Cranston but very little else. You don’t truly get attached to any characters but even if you did there is no real uneasy feeling surrounding the film; you never feel like the characters are in constant danger, which in real life they would be.

Cranston made his career off “Breaking Bad” and I hope to see him go back down that route because watching him break good just isn’t any fun.

Critics Rating: 4/10

infiltrator broad green
Broad Green Pictures

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