‘The Infiltrator’ is Decent Popcorn

Hear “Take Two Movie Reviews” every Saturday and Sunday at  8:45 and 11:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., on WHAV.

Hear “Take Two Movie Reviews” every Saturday and Sunday at 8:45 and 11:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., on WHAV.

On the page, “The Infiltrator” seems like been-there, done that fare: Feds chasing drug dealers and their associates around 1980s Miami.

The variation here, which is based on a true story from a book written by the real-life main character, is that the Feds at this moment had changed from a follow-the-drugs to a follow-the-money strategy. Hence, that main character, Robert Mazur, brought to the screen with predictable gravitas by Academy Award nominee Bryan Cranston, plays an FBI created alter-ego, named Bob Musella, who posed not as a drug kingpin, but rather as a money launderer, eventually ensnaring well-dressed bankers and violent drug king-pins alike. Key to Musella’s success was his girl-next-door faux fiancée Kathy Ertz, played with charming smarts by Dianne Kruger. Their relationship, and its culmination in a mob-style wedding, is central to the plot.

If you remember the real-life event, it may be spoiled for you going in, but director Brad Furman sustains the danger and suspense in scene after scene where one slip…well you get the idea. Two sub-plots accompany to give context: Though eligible for retirement, and married with a young daughter, Agent Mazur stays on the job, much to the chagrin of his wife, and a relationship develops between him and one of the targeted drug lieutenants. Neither of these subplots are particularly original, but they are handled deftly. Near to stealing the show here is John Leguizamo who playsinformant/agent Emir Abreu with a fresh mix of zeal and disrespect, much of which seems unscripted.

“The Infiltrator” is decent popcorn to be sure. In the back of your mind afterwards, though will be the thought that–despite the big takedown–25 years further into the drug wars, little has changed.