Bryan Cranston, star of The Infiltrator, is one name you’re not likely to forget. After several background characters he played on popular TV shows like CHiPs, Hill Street Blues, and The X-Files, he finally landed a role which helped him get name recognition. He played the father on Malcolm in the Middle.
It wasn’t until Bryan played a very different kind of father in Breaking Bad that his fame exploded. Now, he’s making waves everywhere he goes. Many who wouldn’t have otherwise bothered with the Power Rangers reboot are suddenly interested because he’s playing a major role. His character even died halfway through the Godzilla reboot and still had a more memorable presence than almost everybody else.
— IGN (@IGN) July 13, 2016
Bryan Cranston is just an excellent actor, and in The Infiltrator, he’s proven it again by flipping his biggest role. Instead of a drug-running crime kingpin, he plays a man hunting one down. It could have been a clever inside joke if one of the drug dealers was played by Dean Norris, who played DEA boss Hank Schrader in Breaking Bad.
— IndieWire (@IndieWire) July 14, 2016
Cranston plays U.S. Customs Agent Robert Mazur, a man who takes the Brian O’Conner approach to getting close to a known criminal. Brian O’Conner, played by the late Paul Walker, made his debut in The Fast and The Furious as an undercover cop, mirroring the real-life Robert Mazur. Mazur’s plan is to get into the drug empire undercover under the fake name Bob Musella, a money launderer and party host for the Medellin cartel.
The Medellin cartel was the one run by the infamous Pablo Escobar.
Bryan Cranston teams up with Diane Kruger, who plays the role of his fake fiancée, and John Leguizamo, who plays his brash risk-taker partner. The Chicago Tribune says that this buddy cop routine is almost overplayed, but thanks to top-notch performances all around, The Infiltrator pulls it off amazingly.
AZCentral says that the brilliance in what Mazur does in the film is that he defies what other investigators are focusing on. Instead of following the drugs, he’s following the money. It takes him years to earn the trust of the men on top, unlike Cranston’s more famous alter ego, Walter White. Mazur spends most of his time staying on the good side of untrusting criminals who would kill him in an instant if they knew who he really was.
Bryan Cranston convincingly shows us that in the drug money business, one minor detail could destroy your credibility. One of said slip-ups involved something in a strip bar, leading to his need to adopt a fake fiancée.
In the end, Mazur gains the trust of Pablo Escobar’s No. 2 man, Robert Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), and his wife, Gloria (Elena Anaya). It would have been easy to take the typical Goodfellas route to stereotypical thugs, but Bratt doesn’t take that route. He plays a character who would be an all-around regular guy aside from the drugs and murder.
Brad Furman more than earns accolades as he turns what could have been just another 80s action movie about drug dealing bad guys into a film where the tension is palpable. He knows just how to turn it up at the right time and make you wonder if Bryan Cranston’s Mazur is going to slip and get himself killed.
This isn’t the first time Bryan Cranston has taken a role based on a real person, as he also pulled off the role of Dalton Trumbo last year. Critics agree that Cranston has a bright future as long as he continues to deliver outstanding performances such as in The Infiltrator.
[Image via Broad Green Pictures]