Film #251: The Infiltrator (2016)

infiltratordirector: Brad Furman
language: English and Spanish (plus a bit of French)
length: 127 minutes
watched on: 26 Dec 2016 (plane 2/5)

Just for a bit of a contrast to the movie I’d just watched, I decided to watch this thriller-type movie with Bryan Cranston. I heard about it a few months ago, and I guess I’m a fan of the guy. He’s a good actor, after all.

Drug cartels are, of course, no stranger to Bryan Cranston, but he’s on the opposite side of the conflict than he was in Breaking Bad this time, as a undercover CIA agent who pulls a sting on some bad guys, but not before becoming best friends with the guy at the head of the cartel. Apparently it’s based on a true story.

The movie is set in the 80s, and I think it’s partly so the makers had the excuse to homage some outrageous insults to the art of interior design and personal fashion. Cranston starts out the movie with a 70s porn ‘stache and Paul Rudd’s hair. There are also some “chic” design choices and a distinct lack of mobile phones. In that it’s very similar to Stranger Things, but that series was quite in-your-face about its dated style – this movie reminds you of it occasionally, pulling you slightly out of suspension of disbelief as you marvel at the weirdly shaped landline phone.

Drama comes because Cranston’s character can’t quite keep his family life and his alterego separate – he invents a fiancée to get out of sleeping with a hooker, which leads his CIA bosses to get angry but assign him a bombshell blonde as his potential wife, much to the chagrin of his actual wife. Later, he is accosted by one of his cartel buddies in a restaurant, and ends up punching out the waiter, in front of his wife, in order to save face.

I don’t really want to spoil the ending too much – the final scene worked pretty well, I thought. The problem is that the rest of the movie didn’t really make up for it. It dragged a bit in the unmemorable middle sections, but more importantly, the characters’ attitude to women is really atrocious. The amount of misogyny in this movie might be accurate and justified in the sense that this is what people are really like, but I don’t think the movie did a good enough job in denouncing this outright.

Whatever, really, though. The movie is enjoyable and all that, but it’s no classic. It doesn’t live up to Breaking Bad, of course. But I’m happy that Cranston is still getting heavyweight roles like this. I wonder if he’ll ever go back to comedy.

Anyone else seen this? What do you think?


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