Published Aug 11, 2016Bryan Cranston's most popular role to date is certainly Walter White, the morally ambiguous science teacher-turned-maniacal drug lord from TV's Breaking Bad. For the first time in three years, fans get a small taste of the character they've been missing with The Lincoln Lawyer director Brad Furman's latest feature, The Infiltrator.
Based on the autobiography of the same name by Robert Mazur, the 1980s-based true-life crime thriller tells the story of a U.S. Customs special agent (Cranston) tasked with taking down cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar's money-laundering ring by going undercover. To do so, he's partnered with Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo), a wily undercover officer whose drug of choice is busting criminals.
Much like in Breaking Bad, the best points in the film occur when the lines between real-life character (Cranston as Mazur, a loving husband and Florida father of two) and the alter ego he's created (Bob Musella, a flashy, fur coat-sporting business mogul with a hot blonde wife, played by The Bridge's Diane Kruger) increasingly blur. It's no Heisenberg, but the transformations and moral dilemmas that come with Cranston's character getting deeper into the trade are similar (Mazur's personal life begins to unravel the more time he spends in the mind of Musella and with the drug economy's elite), as are his increasing ego (Mazur's always looking for the next big takedown, even when it puts his partners in danger, leading to some of the movie's more hairy scenes).
Fans of more gunfire-friendly crime dramas may find The Infiltrator a bit of a slog, as much of the action takes place in international banking boardrooms or during quiet conversations at clubs and Manhattan apartments. More detail-oriented viewers, though, will appreciate this highly intelligent and introspective thriller that, although it'll likely be glossed over come awards season, features one of the highest calibre performances yet from its lead actor.