The Infiltrator (2016)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Movie Review The Infiltrator (2016)

The Infiltrator (2016)

Bryan Cranston is not your typical movie star, although he seems like it. Underneath the cool-high-school-dad exterior, there's an actor of great depth and unexpected power. You'll know it when you see a scene involving his character, said character's wife, and a restaurant on their anniversary dinner. Cranston seems to have benefited during his years as Walter 'Heisenberg' White on TV's Breaking Bad. And it has contributed greatly in this biographical crime thriller, about as straightforward and predictable as a stab in the gut.

Yes, Brad Furman's (The Lincoln Lawyer, Runner Runner) directorial efforts here will not be known for their signature riffs, as there is none to speak of. It's standard thriller fare, the kind that would do well had it been released between the late 1980s and early 1990s; pure genre fare that caters to mostly adult film-goers that aren't interested in seeing computer-generated superpowers or rubble. In other words, unoriginal yet mature, grown-up stuff.

The Infiltrator, however, is textbook example of how great casting can elevate shopworn genre material into solid entertainment, as the always-reliable Cranston has proved here. Sure, he is strongly supported by a bevy of intriguing cast members including Benjamin Bratt, John Leguizamo and the lovely Diane Kruger; but in portraying real-life undercover agent Robert Mazur shimmying his way up through Pablo Escobar's criminal empire, Cranston's understated but strong everyman presence confidently carries the movie solely. That quality alone replaces the tediousness often found in similar true-crime movies with an intense amount of uneasy suspense and grounded credibility, providing lots of fun for Cranston fans as long as they do not expect anything groundbreaking.

Other Review..

If I had an award to give for the most disengaging movie of year I would give it to this movie. Right now. I wouldn't even wait till I've seen all the movies that I want to in 2016. Because this is probably the most bland, heartless movie I have ever seen. Which is something I never thought would happen in a Bryan Cranston movie. The movie is about a government Infiltrator. He is given the task of going undercover in one of the biggest mobs in history and break them apart. With this kind of source material it would seem impossible to make a boring movie. You have an R rating, one of the best actors working, and one of the craziest true stories ever.

And you did the very thing no one could have imagined. You made one of the dullest mob films I have ever had the displeasure of seeing. The only reason I am not calling this one of the hands down worst films of the year is because of Mr. Cranston. Who, despite the garbage he is working with, turns in a typically excellent performance.

Every else does a pretty great job as well. But this is one movie that proves that an ensemble cast means nothing when the movie around them sucks. You'd think going into a film like this that there would be stakes, or tension. But there isn't, at all. Even scenes where bad dudes are looking over a briefcase filled with recording equipment don't land. Why? Because that scene lasts less than ten seconds.

You can't expect people to feel nervous about what is happening when the person looking over the case doesn't even touch it. He looks at it from a distance for a few seconds and clears it. Where's the tension in that? Moments like this plague the film. Anytime actual conflict arises it stays for so short a time that it doesn't feel remotely nerve racking. 

The makers put these moments in the film to make you nervous right? So, why do they mean nothing to the rest of the film? This mans whole career is based around secrecy and going with the flow. But when the entire film feels scripted there is nothing to get invested in. It doesn't feel like the bad guys are controlling anything. 

It feels like Cranston could have done whatever he wanted to them. If he asked them to handcuff themselves and walk into a prison cell, I'm confident they would have done it. It was so incredibly boring to watch. Even when it tries to show how the job is affecting his family life, it's bland. That has everything to do with the absolutely atrocious characters. There's no one to care about here in the slightest. 

I was constantly waiting for some one to die so that we could really see who these people were and how would react to that but that moment never came. Not only does this movie feel artificial and generic but it plays everything so safe. Despite being in the middle of a mob that prides themselves in cutting people up you never see anything like that. So how can we be invested in our main character or his "struggle"? This disregard of storytelling is only highlighted by it's run time, which feels ten times longer than the two hours it claims to clock in at. 

There is so much that this film does wrong it actually blew me away. Among all the reasons I listed there's also a by the numbers soundtrack, poor direction, and an utter disregard to small details. When your film is mostly meant to be character driven and every one of them is a walking blank slate then you have a big problem. The only saving grace is Cranston and his incredibly convincing performance. Aside from that, this is easily the most lifeless, bland film that I seen all year.
The Infiltrator (2016)

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