With the entire UK population of mothers flocking to see Bridget Jones’s Baby faster that you can say Colin Firth, I decided this week to jump out of the queue of mothers and see a film that was being overshadowed, therefore The Infiltrator garnered my attention.
I have seen my fair share of undercover movies from Donnie Brasco to The Departed and I couldn’t help myself but look at those two films and see what director Brad Furman could do better than those two. The film got off to a great start showing Bryan Cranston’s character Robert Mazur already in undercover work which seemed a breath of fresh air at the time of viewing as these types of undercover films start out with the character before their undercover work.
Bryan Cranston’s performance was very intimidating which matches what his character has to become when trying to launder money with the world’s biggest drug cartel. It also helps when the character is trying to find a sense of humanity within this drug ring as the film addresses what effect Roberts work was having on his relationship with his wife and family. Other characters in the film were Emir Aberu and Kathy Ertz played by John Leguizamo and Diane Kruger who I enjoyed but could not reach the level of intensity that Bryan Cranston could.
When the film reaches its peak scenes of thrill, what has to be marvelled at the most is the sound design in the aftermath of scenes that involve someone getting shot, the sound puts us in the mind of Robert and describe his feelings of shock and how he sees the lack of decent humanity. There was a great scene involving John Leguizamo’s character where he has doubts on whether he enjoys his job anymore as throughout the film he expresses his love for what he does whilst Robert’s self revelation is the complete opposite. Pairing these two characters together and twisting their views and personality is impressive to say the least.
However, the film could have used more of that impressiveness in the entirety of its length. Attention starts to dwindle when we have to force ourselves to keep up with the narrative which isn’t helped by the poor editing from one sequence to another. This is one film where you can’t get up to go to the toilet.
Something this film strains to find is its sense of time. The film is supposed to be set in 1986, it even gives us the date in text at the films introduction, but there is so much modern familiarity in the locations that it’s quite easy to mistake this for present day. I wish that the set designers would have made a bit more effort into the dressing of the sets to make us believe that we are in the 1980’s.
I have mentioned films like Donnie Brasco and The Departed as bar setters for undercover crime drama’s and The Infiltrator just seems too familiar, there is a scene involving a cake at a restaurant which I couldn’t help but think that it was incredibly similar to the Japanese restaurant scene in Donnie Brasco, while it’s not exactly a complete rip-off or an homage to Mike Newell’s ’97 classic, the emotion and the tone’s intensity mimic each other.
I also have to talk about the film’s all over the place cinematography style, the amount of movement that the cinematographer Joshua Reis conducts is scattered all over the place, there will be static shots one moment and then there will be quick zooms into close ups of the characters faces which breaks apart the scene’s tone and is distracting. However, it redeems itself with an art house style of filming during the start of any scene that takes place in a club, the camera work is spectacular with the neon and darkened mix match style of lighting.
When you get past the Bryan Cranston irony, The Infiltrator can offer a thrill when needed from its shooting sequences to Bryan Cranston’s impressive performance, yet when matched with an average and an all too familiar way of presenting a crime drama, The Infiltrator won’t be a film that will have audiences totally blown away but can offer an adult experience after a very PG rated summer.
Final Result: 6/10 – Above Average
Have you seen The Infiltrator? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below
Next Time: The Magnificent Seven