Infiltrator: Old-Fashioned Crime Procedural, Elevated by Brian Cranston in Double Role

Considering the potentially exciting source material, and the timeliness of its issue–War on Drugs–The Infiltrator is just a functional, serviceable crime procedural, elevated by the spectacular performance of its reliable lead actor, Brian Cranston.

Brad Furman, working from a passable screenplay by Ellen Brown Furman (the director’s mother), presents a rather compelling cops-and-criminals drama about real-life U.S. Customs agent Bob Mazur,

The tale is set in the 1980s, during the Reagan administration, before the global alert of surveillance and the invention of sophisticated technology. Indeed, the main surveillance equipment is a Renwick briefcase with a little brass eagle below the handle.

Cranston, a chameleon like actor, is well cast, playing his double identity rather smoothly. Cast as Mazur, he poses as a Mob-connected lawyer doing business with members of Pablo Escobar’s drug ring and the executives at the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, which happily launders the money.

By the end of the decade, Mazur collected enough evidence to indict more than 100 people.

Enjoyably old-fashioned movie, The Infiltrator is solidly acted by its ensemble, which Diane Kruger as Mazur’s government-assigned “wife,” Benjamin Bratt as drug kingpin Roberto Alcaino, and especially John Leguizamo as Customs Agent Emir Abreu, who has the best part and handles the rough stuff rather well.

By today’s standards, the movie feels it belongs more to the small-screen, as it lacks dramatic energy, thrilling pace, or visual flair.