Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Infiltrator [2016]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB ()  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB () review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (P. Sobczynski) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review  

The Infiltrator [2016] (directed by Brad Fuhrman, screenplay by Ellen Brown Fuhrman based on the true life / true crime book [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Robert Mazur [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]) makes me very, very happy that I've never been part of the "into the Lion's Den" nightmares that this film describes.

The film is about former U.S. Customs Agent Robert Mazur (played in the film by Bryan Cranston ironically of Breaking Bad [2008-2013] fame/infamy) who during the height of the Reagan Administration's War on Drugs came up with the idea of "focusing on the (laundering of the) MONEY" made in the Drug Trade rather than on simply focusing on intercepting the shipment of the drugs themselves.  

So he invented the alias Bob Musella and gave him a somewhat mobbed-up / certainly somehow "connected" crooked businessman from New Jersey persona, and with his partner Emir Abreau (given a younger more freewheeling Latino alias/persona and played in the film by John Leguizamo) sets out to infiltrate / go up the ladder of the most powerful (Medellin) drug cartel of the time.  The backstory that they built around (the already some years dead/buried) random man named Musella was brilliant because as an _actual_ U.S. government agent, Mazur was able "to do magic" that is be able to "open doors" for increasingly higher placed Drug Lords that _simply would not have been possible_ for a mere "crooked New Jersey businessman with an Italian name" (unless of course, he was somehow "mobbed-up").  

But honestly _try sleeping at night_ if you're trying to enter into the circle of, gain the trust of, and ultimately_entrap_ Colombian Drug Lords like the men around Pablo Escobar (for whom this operation was ultimately gunning):  "Given" a beautiful if random stripper for the night as "a reward" by some impressed / moderately placed Kingpin, Mazur/Musella opts _to try_ remaining faithful to his wife by telling her (and later "taken by surprise" thinking he had been "generous" Drug Kingpin): "Sorry/thanks, but I'm engaged...(thinking on his feet) ... Look, I messed-up my first marriage, I really don't want to mess-up my second ..."  Well ... from that point on, the U.S. Customs Service has to give him a suitable "government issue fiancee" / agent (played quite impressively by Diane Kruger) for the remainder of the operation ;-).

At that time, "all (money laundering) roads" (in the Western Hemisphere anyway...) led through Manuel Noriega's Panama (and through a notorious bank of the time named BCCI ... which actually was shut-down as a result of this operation).  So viewers are teased with all sorts of other threads of intrigue (left still largely unexplored here) :  was the eventual 1989 U.S. Invasion of Panama set into motion to PROTECT THE CONTINUED SECRECY of ANY NUMBER OF LEVELS of U.S. SECRET GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS that had Panama as a hub (from anti-drug running / anti-money laundering operations (like Mazur's), to operations in support of the U.S. supported Nicaraguan Contras to even (possible) drug running operations _in support_ of the Contras...)  

It all makes for one compelling a story.  But I was _very, very happy_ to be able to watch a story like this, smiling (at various times quite nervously) "with popcorn in hand" from "very, very far away" ;-)

Good / great job! ;-)

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