The Infiltrator Blu-ray seems to have everything I want in a movie. It has undercover cops, a setting in 1980’s Florida (where and when I grew up) and Bryan Cranston doing his best Stan Lee imitation. In all seriousness, cops and criminals are one of my favorite types of stories. I was practically weened on TV procedurals like Dragnet, Perry Mason, Columbo and Miami Vice. Plus the family I grew up around was mostly Italian and so I’ve seen just about every available crime film of spaghetti eating mob bosses. So does The Infiltrator make it to “made” status or is it sleeping with the fishes? Read on to find out!
Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) works as a federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent. He is stationed in Tampa Florida in 1985. However he is not happy with the progress (or lack thereof) in disrupting narcotic shipments from South America and therefore decides not to retire. Instead Robert is given the ability to go undercover as a money launderer to get on the cartel’s good side. He eventually focuses on Roberto (Benjamin Bratt) because his boss is the nefarious Pablo Escobar. The bulk of the film is about Robert (Cranston) making underworld connections and keeping track of the building mounds of evidence and cocaine. This film is based on a true story.
I thought Bryan Cranston did a nice job in his role as an undercover cop trying to keep it all together. His acting approach seemed very nuanced. I wish we had a more developed director to focus on all that hard work or perhaps this would have been better suited as a 10 episode series for HBO. John Leguizamo is fun as Robert’s partner Emir but at about the halfway point in the film he sort of disappears into the background. Speaking of which, there are tons of great actors playing small roles in the Infiltrator. Seemingly every time they introduced new characters, I was sitting there saying “oh yeah, that guy!” Olympia Dukakis makes a couple of fun appearances as Aunt Vicky and Diane Kruger played a great complimentary role as Robert’s “fiancee” Kathy.
In my opinion the cast was right and the story was very interesting but it was just a “by the numbers” attempt by the director Brad Furman. Which really makes sense as he seems to always cast well (or at least have gobs of recognizable actors) in his other films like The Lincoln Lawyer and Runner Runner. He seems to run into issues with cliches and moments where characters don’t act like they should for dramatic or plot effect. Those kinds of details to me are critical, especially in movies based on true stories. It’s not that his films don’t entertain or are unwatchable. It’s just the reason, to me, why his works don’t hit the high marks set by the films he is copying.
Audio and Visuals:
The Blu-ray retains the original aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and has very crisp detail. The textures and patterns on the period piece clothing look good. The coloring is bright and stylistically seem to lean towards green and yellow. This is a moderately budgeted production so the picture quality looks good.
The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound isn’t especially active but what is presented is very good. The mix seems balanced between the music and dialogue. It’s presented exactly as you would expect a modern moderately budgeted film to sound like. There are English SDH and Spanish Subtitles.
Commentary with Actor Bryan Cranston and Director Brad Furman.
Deleted Scenes – 5 short scenes
The Three Bobs – A 3 minute long interview with Cranston on set discussing his approach. Also briefly includes the real Robert Mazur in shadow.
How to Infiltrate – A 6 minute exploration of the screenplay including interviews with actors and a couple real life counterparts.
The Infiltrator Final Thoughts:
I thought the film was good but not great. The true story that The Infiltrator is based on is very interesting, but I feel that the film adds too many fake extra and unnecessary scenes that take away from that story. There are too many moments reminiscent of other better crime movies for The Infiltrator to stand on it’s own. I think the actors did a fine job but something just felt off about the film. The Infiltrator lacked so many important details that other films have gotten right. It was said that the filmmakers shied away from using iconic shots of Tampa and Miami because of comparisons to Miami Vice. However that doesn’t explain why so many shots (including the iconic “kiss of death” scene from the Godfather Part 2) were included.
I feel like I need to give The Infiltrator a a rental first recommendation. It doesn’t do anything new with the crime/drug genre but it is still a decent modern film with good performances. I think you will enjoy it more if you don’t know anything about the true story, and background details don’t bother you. However if you have already seen the film and are looking for a solid home release then you should pick it up here at Amazon.
Note: This Blu Ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.