Film Review | The Infiltrator Has Nidge, Walter White and Pablo Escobar – What Could Go Wrong?
At the risk of dating this review, I’d advise anybody reading to check out the Youtube trailer for The Infiltrator before continuing. It’s very likely that before the actual video played, Youtube showed an advertisement for the second season of Netflix’s original programme Narcos. Detailing the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, Narcos has become one of the most well regarded programmes that Netflix has created over the last few years. I’ve yet to watch it, though I’ve been assured by my esteemed HeadStuff colleague Stephen Porzio that it’s “pure class”. I’d wager that Broad Green Pictures are hoping that some of Narcos acclaim will generate more interest in The Infiltrator.
The best way of describing Escobar’s presence in The Infiltrator is “haunting”. The infamous drug lord only appears once in the drama, and shot from behind at that. He’s mentioned a couple of times, but that seems only to prevent the film’s antagonists, who are routinely referred to as “bad guys” from coming across as totally anonymous. Marketing the film as another Escobar story comes across as very cheap considering this fact.
Based on the memoirs of Robert Mazur, a US Customs Agent, who posed as a corrupt businessman offering to launder money for South American drug cartels, Cranston is quite easily the best thing about the film, though like the film itself his performance feels haunted by a far better achievement. Within the opening twenty minutes we see him go through three transformations: undercover as a low level drug buyer in the opening scene, a square accountant in his home life and finally as Robert Muchelo, a mobbed up businessman who extends a hand to the Colombian cartels. Cranston manages this transformations with extreme ease and brings new traits to each incarnation, but one can’t help but feel that it’s effectively what he did over six seasons of Breaking Bad, only far inferior.
The rest of the cast, which includes Diane Kruger, Benjamin Bratt, Joe Gilgun and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, are entirely serviceable. It’s nice to see Gilgun and Vaughan-Lawlor, in particular, get film roles, but unfortunately neither really have a chance to do anything with the roles they have. Mazur’s book is the type of thing you’d pick up before a long flight to pass the time. The film replicates this almost perfectly; it passes the time grand but there is literally nothing about it that I want to revisit. Alright, but those who were hoping for Walter White teaming up with Nidge to take on Pablo Escobar will be sorely, sorely disappointed.
The Infiltrator is in cinemas now. Check out the trailer below.
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