Thoughts on “The Infiltrator”
A lot of things can be said about undercover thrillers, and that is that your main characters find some common ground with the enemy, the profound notion that a criminal can become a friend or as close as family isn’t as absurd as it sounds. That’s what creates dynamic that is tangible, you can understand the gravity of the situation because you understand friendship, family.
In the line of duty Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston, Walter White – Breaking Bad) plays it cool, but don’t be fooled by his nonchalant patience under it all he’s bricking it. The agency pulls him in, after a sting operation goes right and wrong, injuring him in the process. His retirement is offered up, but the chance to take down Pablo Escobar and his associates is too enticing.
Evelyn Mazur (Juliet Aubrey), Robert’s wife and daughter Andrea Mazur (Lara Decaro) are kept out of the loop, in a moment of clarity realises her husband is still undercover and is left as the wife who is on the outside of her husbands business. Out of the loop, unaware. But the grim ramifications of his cover creates personal, a public shame to her opinion of him. Her completely and total lack of insight leaves her frightened of Robert.
Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo, Aurelio – John Wick) an uncertain compadre of Robert, and, eventual favourite develops through his arrogance into his trauma to focused in a matter of the films 2 hour run time. Ever so interesting is the go-to guy, Dominic (Joseph Gilgun, Woody – This Is England). Although him being an arrested felon leaves the statement as curious, Dominic feels a responsibility to be grateful to Robert, they’ve formed a bond quite irregular for their unique positions. The interaction between him and Robert shows a layer of complexity to him as a character, the prior assumption is to judge him, to have an idea before and idea can be formed from observations of the character.
The con-is-on, Robert, now Bob Musella is deep undercover. Connecting with the Columbian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar associates, Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt) Escobar’s top Lieutenant as a business man laundering money for them in the States. The rouse is to get close enough to form a concrete bond to study and record the goings on of the Kingpin’s operation, going through and meeting his most respected cohorts through intense meetings that captivate you and your nerves just to see Bob reel though lies and lies keeping composure and remaining calm.
The pure comfort observed as they bond, their wives bond and the fallout is a tremendous extraction of the convention. They’re enemies but on the same ground they’re friends.
On the side is the ‘Messengers’ for Escobar Gonzalo Mora Sr. (Simon Andreu), Gonzalo Mora Jr. (Ruben Ochandiano), Javier Ospina (Yul Vasquez) play it to frightening levels of insanity, the delivery of masochism from Gonzalo Mora Jr. only displays the craving for money over a life ensures their bloodline to care for paper than a fellow human being. Javier and his “Bodyguard” are obscure and out of the norm, their presence unsettles you and does Bob. This back and forth raises tensions that reveal as a performance that you can never tell is real or fake, increasing the risk.
The level of character detail is phenomenal, the main characters feel fleshed out and consumed in the world. As is their job to blend in, you buy the fact their facade is almost real. The constant high level of threat ensures the reaction to sudden impactful and violently executed sequences revel them in their terror. And you can buy that, in their response, the camera keeps close and doesn’t look away. The act is folding and something’s going to break them.
The films isn’t action heavy, it isn’t supposed to be high-octane. It’s a Thriller and a character study first and foremost, the level of character development insists you care and the you do, it’s harder to keep a calm rhythm. One after the other you’re invested in moments that build those connection and the trust, which leads Bob closer and closer into the heart of darkness.
The main takeaway for me from The Infiltrator is that pacing and length character study creates more of an impact when you invest your patience and emotion for the struggle of a bond eventually to be broken between confidant and handler, in a sense criminals see their work as business. Does this mean the morals are intact? No, it doesn’t, but you still feel a connection and react accordingly.
For it’s length of almost 2 hours, the film feels a lot longer than it would be perceived to be. The pacing is genuine, as if you were in the world with them, dreading the next scene to come along and have something unravel the plan.
Also, Tom Sawyer gets high on you.