In a bid to become believably criminal, Mazur adopts the alias 'Muselli' and dives deep undercover – so it's difficult to avoid Breaking Bad comparisons, and right from the outset Cranston's steely countenance triggers memories of Walter White's conflicted brutality and incorrigible dedication. But it's clear that Mazur is good through-and-through. Only rarely is he invited to question his moral code, and The Infiltrator is less about whether he can withstand the temptation of vice than whether he is cut out to survive in an environment which breeds it. Is the creation of Muselli, a character possessed at once with an inflated confidence and an amiable demeanour, enough to protect the man who really exists in the sharp suit?
Director Brad Furman and writer Ellen Brown Furman (a mother-son team) do a good job of conveying an environment that operates on a warped hedonistic morality fuelled by big egos and greed. In a world populated by men with oversized cojones, there's naturally going to be some equally large personalities, and that's true here on both sides of the law. This paves the way for some very entertaining scenes, but it can be a struggle to appreciate that The Infiltrator is based on a true story. In a way, this is the point: Muselli is a reality so far removed from the comfortable suburban life of Mazur. Often the height of the drama is reached when these two lives cross over and Mazur finds himself pulled in both directions at once.
Once you get past the fairly typical 'good cop/bad cop' and 'one last job' tropes of crime drama that litter the exposition, The Infiltrator concerns itself with the flimsy ties that hold its characters together, with relationships exposed as fascinatingly fragile when the fear of betrayal overwhelms even the most confident crime boss. When Muselli falsely befriends master criminal Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), the tension between loyalty and duty is worked powerfully. The question of how far person can adapt to and camouflage himself in such a foreign scenario is one which The Infiltrator begins to explore, but perhaps doesn't push quite enough.
The Infiltrator succeeds as a slick picture of a seedy world, and the payoff is rewarding, but it's a shame that it takes so long to explore any real
psychology beneath the wads of cash and lavish lifestyle. There's a lingering feeling that the truth
of Mazur's story has been sacrificed to the Hollywood gaze; it's all just a
little false, much like Muselli himself.
|What||The Infiltrator film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
16 Sep 16 – 16 Nov 16, Times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here for more details|