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Aug. 1, 2016

The Infiltrator somehow sneaks into theaters

by Ryan Handel, Opinions Editor
Despite a talented cast and a compelling premise,
The Infiltrator is an overall let-down. With too little exposition and too many moving parts, the movie is difficult to follow. A strong lead performance by Bryan Cranston, who plays undercover agent Robert Mazur, is not enough to overcome the vague plot and the many seemingly repetitive scenes.

The Infiltrator tells the true story of Mazur, a US Customs agent, who, during the 1980s, assumes the fake identity of money-laundering businessman Bob Musella, and earns the trust of powerful leaders in the giant drug cartel of Pablo Escobar. Eventually, Mazur is able to use his status to help enact the arrests of many businessmen and bankers involved in Escobarís drug trade.

The Infiltrator

(released July 13, 2016)
Bryan Cranston stars in the underwhelming movie The Infiltrator. Courtesy of Fandango
Chips Rating:
2.5 stars
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Bryan Cranston stars as an undercover agent in the underwhelming thriller The Infiltrator

Unfortunately, the movie is not as simple as the basic plot line would make it seem. Many characters, including Mazur, are repeatedly swapping identities back and forth. While the changing identities could be used to add thrill and action, they end up just causing confusion. Throughout the film, it is often challenging for the viewer to figure out what is going on, and which characters are protagonists and which are on the side of the cartel.

Another aspect of The Infiltrator that makes it hard to follow is its lack of organization. Strong transitions between scenes were missing, and many scenes are meaningless time-fillers that have little to add to the movie as a whole. Director Brad Furman fails his viewers in this attempt to make a well-constructed film.

Just as the perplexing plot prevents audiences from enjoying the movie, repetitive action sequences make what should be sharp and jarring scenes seem dull. Many times in the movie, a character is violently killed, while another character, usually Mazur, would sit or stand just next to them yet escape unharmed. Although this type of scene certainly spooks the audience the first time it is shown, it gets old very quickly. The large number of times that Mazur narrowly evades death also calls into question how much poetic license was used in the writing of the screenplay.

One redeeming component of the film is the lead actorsí performance. Cranston, along with John Leguizamo, who plays Mazurís coworker and fellow undercover agent Emir Abreu, as well as Diane Kruger, who plays Mazurís fake wife Kathy Ertz, did adequate jobs playing their characters. Cranston is able to stay cool and collected while his character is in danger, but also invokes sympathy when revealing Mazurís loyalty and devotion. Abreu and Kruger are also impressive, considering that they and Cranston basically play two parts in the same film: their true identities and their undercover roles.

The complex and confusing plot of The Infiltrator can be viewed as a strength by some viewers, who are looking to work their brain in an attempt to understand the story. The film could be more enjoyable to watch on DVD, once available, as viewers would be able to freely rewind the move to pick up important details they might have missed. But, casual moviegoers simply looking to have a good time at the theater would be best off staying away.

The Infiltrator is rated R for strong violence, language throughout, some sexual content and drug material and is not currently playing in any local theaters.

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