A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Infiltrator is a crime drama that tells the true story of federal agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston), who went undercover in the 1980s to bring down several criminals associated with the illegal cocaine drug trade. Expect many scenes of realistic, bloody violence, and guns are everywhere; characters are shot and killed (some execution-style), with gory spurts, sprays, and puddles of blood. There are also beatings, car crashes, and other shocking scenes. Language is very strong, with many uses of "f--k," "s--t," and much more. There's one sexual situation involving implied oral sex; sex is also discussed and thought about, and women are shown in skimpy outfits and treated as sexual objects. Though the movie is about drugs, they aren't shown all that often -- but characters do drink fairly often and also smoke cigarettes and cigars. Breaking Bad star Cranston is no stranger to harsh, drug-related material, but -- like that show -- this movie is only for older teens and adults.
What's the story?
In the mid-1980s, at the height of the cocaine craze, federal agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) has the option to retire, but instead he goes undercover as a slick money launderer -- THE INFILTRATOR -- in hopes of getting close to infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. At his side is the unpredictable Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo) and the rookie Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger), who poses as Robert's fiancee. After much planning and hard work, Robert gets close to Escobar's high-ranking lieutenant, Roberto Alcaino (Benjamin Bratt). It looks as if Robert and his team could be close to shutting down a huge illegal operation, but anything, at any time, could go dangerously wrong.
Is it any good?
The acting is good, and the story is well-told, but this film is more serviceable than extraordinary. Director Brad Furman sometimes copies better films, but he also fumbles many scenes via poor choices. Certain moments -- long tracking shots accompanied by cool pop songs -- recall Martin Scorsese or Brian De Palma at their most stylish, but at other times, Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer, Runner, Runner) tends to fall back on clumsy, shaky, poorly staged shots.
Directorial flaws aside, Furman is at least blessed with a good story and an interesting character in Mazur, which gives the talented Cranston (Breaking Bad) some powerful moments. The supporting cast isn't forgotten, either, and The Infiltrator satisfyingly fleshes out several other characters, making the entire 1980s criminal canvas that much richer. Of course, The Infiltrator never questions whether all this activity actually did any good, but perhaps that's a subject for another movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Does Mazur seem like a role model? What are his admirable qualities? His iffy ones?
Does the movie have any strong female characters? How do the women in major roles compare to the women in minor roles?
This movie is based on a true story: How accurate do you think it is? Why might filmmakers change the way things happened in a fact-based movie?
- In theaters: July 13, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: October 11, 2016
- Cast: Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger
- Director: Brad Furman
- Studio: Broad Green Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, language throughout, some sexual content and drug material
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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