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The Infiltrator Blu-ray Review

The Infiltrator (2016) movie poster The Infiltrator

Theatrical Release: July 13, 2016 / Running Time: 127 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Brad Furman / Writers: Ellen Sue Brown (screenplay); Robert Mazur (book)

Cast: Bryan Cranston (Robert Mazur), Diane Kruger (Kathy Ertz), John Leguizamo (Emir Abreu), Benjamin Bratt (Roberto Alcaino), Yul Vazquez (Javier Ospina), Juliet Aubrey (Evelyn Mazur), Elena Anaya (Gloria Alcaino), Amy Ryan (Bonni Tischler), Olympia Dukakis (Aunt Vicky), Joseph Gilgun (Dominic), Jason Isaacs (Mark Jackowski), Juan Cely (The Informant), Rubιn Ochandiano (Gonzalo Mora Jr.), Carsten Hayes (Rudy Armbrecht), Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Steve Cook), Saοd Taghmaoui (Amjad Awan), Art Malik (Akbar Bilgrami), Simon Andreu (Gonzalo Mora Sr.), Ashley Bannerman (Laura Sherman), Daniel Mays (Frankie), Michael Parι (Barry Seal)

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Bryan Cranston has not had the typical Hollywood actor trajectory. In his twenties, he was pitching Preparation H hemorrhoid cream in television commercials. After fifteen years of mostly bit parts and single episode guest spots on the likes of "Baywatch", "Matlock", and "Murder, She Wrote", Cranston landed what would become a recurring role on "Seinfeld" as dentist Tim Whatley.
It was not a particularly memorable role or one that pegged Cranston for stardom as he rounded 40. Cranston then landed a prominent but still supporting role as the patriarch of a large eccentric family in "Malcolm in the Middle." Seven seasons on Fox's well-liked single-camera sitcom boosted his exposure, as did a supporting role in the Oscar-winning indie dramedy Little Miss Sunshine.

Then came Walter White, the role of a lifetime on a project of a lifetime. "Breaking Bad", AMC's chemistry teacher turned meth maker drama, became iconic and revered in a way that few other basic cable shows ever have. And it reinvented Cranston as a dramatic actor. Supporting roles in such respected films as Drive, Contagion, and Argo followed. And Cranston became a bona fide leading man of film with last year's Trumbo, a biopic that earned him Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.

Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) finds his life in danger in the color combination of orange and teal in "The Infiltrator."

The Infiltrator, Cranston's second solo vehicle, stars him as Robert Mazur, a Florida-based U.S. Customs official who went undercover in the mid-1980s to expose drug trafficking and money laundering connected to the cocaine empire of Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar. In a mid-sized release of 1,601 theaters, The Infiltrator grossed $15.4 million, twice what Trumbo made in 660 theaters the previous fall. Those numbers won't make anyone declare Cranston a big time draw, but to make the leap from television comedy to television drama to respectable cinema is impressive enough, no matter how long that evolution has taken.

Emulating such Johnny Depp films as Donnie Brasco, Blow, and Black Mass, The Infiltrator is a solid second-rate crime drama. We spend nearly the entire film with Mazur as he infiltrates different groups involved in the lucrative drug trade. It is a dangerous job of false identities and vicarious trust. It is one that Mazur has the chance to retire from comfortably after getting burned up by a wire taped to his chest. But he keeps at it to the dismay of his wife (Juliet Aubrey).

As Mazur connects with powerful bankers willing to move money around the world for him and various criminal figures, all the way up to Escobar associate Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), he winds up having a colleague (Diane Kruger) pose as his fiancιe. All this distresses his real wife, but his actions and recordings get him closer to building enough of a case to take bad men off the streets and put them in prison for a long time.

Posing as Robert Musella, Mazur (Bryan Cranston) gets close to influential Pablo Escobar associate Roberto Alcaino.

Director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer, Runner Runner) and his mother, first-time screenwriter Ellen Brown Furman, craft a competent enough thriller that is lathered with some '80s music (Rush's "Tom Sawyer", Nu Shooz's narrowly anachronistic "I Can't Wait")
and also includes some moments of real tension, as when Mazur's daughter receives one of Escobar's bloody coffin threats.

Cranston imbues the protagonist with depth and weight, making us cheer for him as he navigates this tricky life-or-death trade. His supporting cast, from John Leguizamo to Amy Ryan to Olympia Dukakis (remember her?), is mostly on point too, deferring to the material while serving it well.

But The Infiltrator never comes close to sizzling the way that Martin Scorsese's crime dramas and other flavorful films of that kind (David O. Russell's American Hustle, JC Chandor's A Most Violent Year) have. And so it falls short of the big impact it wants to deliver and you want to receive. Cranston's talent is never in doubt; at this point, he seems capable of handling any comedic or dramatic challenge sent his way (next he'll follow in the footsteps of Steve Martin and Bernie Mac as a prospective father-in-law to James Franco in the Christmas Day opener Why Him?). That only makes you wish he was given something better by better filmmakers than this. He elevates the material, but it's material in need of that elevation and even a little more.

The second widest and highest-grossing release to date from Broad Green Pictures, The Infiltrator hits Blu-ray and DVD this week.

The Infiltrator Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), 5.1 DTS (Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($29.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Infiltrator looks good on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 transfer shows off the moderately stylized film with nary a concern, while the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack brims with life, distributing music, effects, and dialogue with purpose and impact. The little bit of Spanish dialogue is translated by burned-in subtitle.

Amy Ryan makes another appearance as Mazur's tough boss Bonni Tischler in this deleted scene. While the real Robert Mazur, an executive producer on the film, stays hidden in the shadows, his colleagues Kathy Ertz and Emir Abreu show themselves in "How to Infiltrate" interviews.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by director-producer Brad Furman and star-executive producer Bryan Cranston. They tell us about this film predominantly shot in London with an international cast and from a screenplay by Furman's mother.

It's an all right track, though one that few people will probably be compelled to listen to.

On the video side, where all is encoded in HD, we start with a section of five deleted scenes (8:52) that are presented with timecodes running over them but no commentary or introductions explaining their deletions. Amy Ryan's tough boss features prominently in one of them, while John Leguizamo's federal agent features in another.

"The Three Bobs" (3:18) is a brief portrait of the titular hero, with comments from Cranston and the real Bob Mazur, who continues to hide his identity and appears in shadow.

"How to Infiltrate" is divided into three parts ("Psychology", "Identity", "Danger"), but is short enough (5:51) to render that unnecessary. This piece is basically an extension of the previous one, sharing its brisk, promotional tone. At least the real people that Diane Kruger and John Leguizamo play in the film share their comments without hiding their identities.

Finally, "Also from Broad Green Pictures" holds full trailers for Learning to Drive, Last Days in the Desert, I Smile Back, The Dark Horse, and Song of Lahore in addition to the four which the disc automatically plays at insertion, for The Walk in the Woods, 99 Homes, Break Point, and Knight of Cups. There's even a "Play All" option. The only thing that's missing is The Infiltrator's own trailer, something Broad Green should start including.

The menu loops clips and makes sounds as you navigate. The disc resumes playback after repeating the Broad Green Pictures logo. It does not support bookmarks.

No inserts or slipcover accompany the standard blue keepcase and plain blue disc.

At the film's opening, undercover federal agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) has another alternate identity in the form of a drug-dealing hood.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

With a lesser lead actor, The Infiltrator would sink. On the strengths of Bryan Cranston's performance, it at least stays afloat. While it doesn't soar the way that other true crime dramas have, it does remain reasonably engaging. Broad Green's Blu-ray treats the film to fine picture and sound and decent extras.

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Related Reviews:
Bryan Cranston: Trumbo • Argo • Drive • Godzilla • Contagion • Rock of Ages • Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season • John Carter
Black Mass • A Most Violent Year • Kill the Irishman • Goodfellas • American Hustle • Sicario • Killing Them Softly
John Leguizamo: Ride Along • Meadowland • The Counselor | Diane Kruger: National Treasure • Unknown
Benjamin Bratt: Traffic | Amy Ryan: Louder Than Bombs • Gone Baby Gone • Clear History • Win Win
New to Disc: The Legend of Tarzan • Complete Unknown • Swiss Army Man • Into the Forest • Cell • Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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Reviewed October 10, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Broad Green Pictures, Good Films, Miriam Segal Productions, Road Less Traveled Productions, George Films, Lipsync Productions.
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