“The Infiltrator”


            Robert Mazur was a U.S. Customs Agent in the bad old days of the 1980's, when the Colombian Drug Cartel was in full flower.  Cocaine was abundant and life was cheap.  Millions of dollars were being made daily, but the drug lords needed some shady operatives to help move the money into the willing hands of international bankers who were willing to ignore where the money came from.  That meant that someone had to infiltrate the drug kingpin's own network, and somehow worm his way into the trust of vicious criminals who feared no one.  Even though Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) was at retirement age, he took this undercover assignment, because he wanted to bring down the big boys.  To help do that, he recruited a DEA informant (John Leguizamo), then got a convict out of prison to be his chauffeur “muscle,” then got another agent (Diane Kruger) assigned to be his “fiancee,” whose charm could help lower the guard of the kingpins.

            There were some harrowing moments.  But the plan worked almost to perfection.  Mazur was, in fact, taken into the inner circles of the Medellin cartel, including Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt), effectively the COO.  But to get to that point, Mazur had to find some crooked bankers, also, and bring his “fiancee” for socializing with Alcaino's lovely wife Gloria (Elena Anaya), while also being willing to hang out with the lesser operatives at glitzy strip clubs.  It was all an act, but a precarious one.  At first, Robert Mazur just assumed he could come home to his wife and kids as if it were just another day at the office.  But soon the separate lives bled together in a way that forced him to pretend he didn't have a family for a while, for their own safety.  That's above and beyond the call of duty.

            We are facinated with not only Mazur's hubris, but also the nature of the seedy, greedy underworld that sprouts, full-grown, from the drug trade.  Yes, as Alcaino himself points out, without the high demand coming from the United States, there would be no market, and thus no drugs.  “If people want to spend their own money in self-destructrive behavior, who am I to deny them their freedom of choice?”  And so with that rationale, the clandestine supply train leaves its wake of devastation and corruption behind it.

            Can you really invite a bunch a criminals to a fake wedding and hope they'll show up so you can arrest them?  Apparently you can.  And they did.  But there are probably aspects to this undercover story that we don't know, and don't really care to know, because we'd rather our heroes come home clean and unsullied, you know.  Even after their descent into The Abyss.


Questions for Discussion:

1)                  How should the drug culture be addressed?  From the demand side or the supply side?

2)                  Do you fight the cartels by following the smuggled drugs, or the smuggled money?

3)                  What's the risk/reward analysis for an undercover operation involving a drug cartel?


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critis Association