You would have thought that a story about the downfall of the worlds most notorious drug peddler would be a home run for a movie. Add in someone who has been an acting powerhouse in a role that is incredibly similar to the lead character and you have a potential Oscar winner and a license to print money and then swim in it.
The film focuses around Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) who is a decent family man who is forced to do unsavoury things thanks to circumstances outside of his control… a bit like Breaking Bad right? Mazur works with Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) in order to infiltrate Pablo Escobar’s money laundering regime.
Unfortunately it’s not. The film is actually really boring. Maybe it should have been called The Dream Infiltrator because it’s a good film to fall asleep to. I know it’s not just me either, the people following me out of the cinema emoted similar thoughts.
The main problem is that not a lot really happens in the film. Mazur has the idea to follow the money rather than the drugs and then we spend the entire film with him trying to get closer to Escobar’s inner circle by setting up his own fake laundering company. At some point the feds decide to shut everything down and that’s it. Film ended.
It reminds me of that guy who made a sandwich from scratch. He grew wheat and lettuce and conjured up yeast from the netherworld or however it’s produced and even raised animals for the meat and dairy. After 6 months of work the results were “It’s not bad. That’s about it”. Lots of setup. Minimal pay off. Fucking pointless in the end.
The only moments of excitement, such as a drive by or a visit to a shaman in Colombia, are isolated from the rest of the plot and I questioned why these scenes were needed or if they were then why weren’t they integrated better.
Come to think of it, THAT is the real issue. I still don’t actually know who most of the people were in the story and more importantly how they relate to Escobar himself.
I don’t really know anything about Escobar apart from that Nas once rapped about him and Netflix made a series called Narcos. However, I do know that he is the main reason I wanted to see the film so to have precious little correlation with his wider drug cartel is as meaningful to me as if they had told a story about trying to shut down Escobar’s favourite brand of aguardiente.
If I take a step back the film is fairly well produced. The script is solid even if the story isn’t and it’s consistently well delivered. Also, Leguizamo is particularly excellent as a cop who is fiercely loyal to his job but enjoys the partying that his undercover work affords him.
None of this is enough to stop you from constantly nodding off so I can’t recommend The Infiltrator but I hear Narcos is pretty good. Maybe give that a try!?
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Decent script
+ Leguizamo was great
– Not much happens
– Relationship to Escobar is not really explained