More than twenty tears ago, actor Bryan Cranston had a small recurring role on the Seinfeld show. He played Tim Whatley, a dentist. While Seinfeld has retired from broadcast TV (he now visits friends and takes them out for a coffee and some chuckles). Cranston on the other hand, has moved on to bigger and better roles.
Like Walter White, the ubiquitous every man who became the ruthless King of Meth in Breaking Bad. Like the blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo. Like former US President Lyndon Baines Johnson both on stage and in the TV movie All The Way.
Cranston’s latest film, called The Infiltrator, opened today. Cranston plays Robert Mazur, an agent for the U.S. Customs Department who comes up with the idea that instead of tracking the drugs to lead them to cartel leaders, they would follow the money instead.
Mazur poses as one Robert Muselli, a big-time money launderer. John Leguizamo plays Emir Abreu, an undercover agent who has the necessary street creds and lower level connections to get the introductions that Muselli/Mazur needs.
Benjamin Bratt plays Roberto Alcaino who is Pablo Escobar’s main drug distributor. Diane Kruger plays Kathy Ertz who poses as Muselli’s fiance.
Amy Ryan (The Wire) is on hand as Mazur’s tough boss. Yul Vazquez is on hand as another of Escobar’s front men, his investments manager to be precise – one Javier Ospina.
The rest of the cast is the usual suspects – crooked bankers, cartel muscle, family members (kids and wives) and assorted fringe US Customs agents and lawyers.
The setting is the mid 80’s during the Ronald Regan era. Mazur is nearing his retirement but he agrees to go undercover after his boss lets her guys know that the word has come down from Washington DC. They want the biggest bust ever with the ultimate target being Don Pablo (Escobar). The fact that Mazur has agreed to this ‘last’ job is severely disappointing to his wife (played by Juliet Aubrey).
Okay, the premise is not new, and the film isn’t about excesses in anyone’s life-style. Yes, there are private jets but not so much in the way of luxurious mansions, yachts, and expensive cars. In fact, apart from Mazur/Muselli having to look like a successful businessman on occasion, the film, while decidedly not a low-rent production, definitely lacks the glitz and glamour that you might associate in a film about drug lords and cartels.
While I won’t go as far as saying that the film isn’t any good, I was disappointed. Cranston, Bratt, Kruger, and Leguizamo are all effective. Mazur/Muselli is tough when necessary (I don’t do business under threat) and tender with his wife and family when needed.