The Infiltrator made headlines last April when it was announced a hollywood movie would be filming locally in Tampa, FL.
It’s not often we are able to see ourselves represented on the big screen, the last major motion picture shot here was the Selena Gomez drama, Spring Breakers, and that was back in 2012. So naturally, this was a big deal for the community, and received nothing but support. Filming went underway, wrapped up in a quick amount of time and that was it for a couple months. Around the same time this year, we finally got a trailer and a first look at the film. It was real, it was getting released, and Tampa couldn’t be more excited.
It’s kind of a no-brainer that it was shot here, as Tampa is also the location of the real-life story that the film was based on. Many that were alive remember in the late 80s when U.S. Customs Official, Robert Mazur, uncovered a money-laundering schemes involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. Bryan Cranston stars as Mazur and is by far the highlight of the film. He brings a lot of the intensity, being constantly thrust into dangerous situations and making sacrifices for the sake of his family’s safety. Here we have the first academy-awards contender for Best Actor, and not far behind him are John Leguizamo and Benjamin Bratt who both give great performances as well. Diane Kruger gives a serviceable performance as Mazur’s undercover partner, but unfortunately is never given her moment to shine. Aside from the performances, what we have here is a pretty standard crime drama that hits all of the beats you’d expect.
Despite being adapted from a true story, it’s a shame the film is as cliché as it is, and the writing is to blame for it. How much of it was changed to fit hollywood’s standards I’m not sure, but one thing that stood out was the ending which was vastly different from how it went down in real life. That isn’t the only upsetting thing, many of the female characters are given absolutely no personality or development. Again, as someone who is unfamiliar with the real story, this could’ve been accurate, but as an audience member it comes across as unnecessary.
Another one of the highlights is the location. Call me biased, but it was so refreshing seeing something other than the typical Los Angeles or New York City on screen. Tampa stills maintains that city-feel but on a smaller scale and provides a lot of unique locations for the film. Scenes shot in 2001 Odyssey, The Tampa Theater and Ybor give the film a more unique feel to it and look stunning on screen.
While it wasn’t a particularly exceptional film, for what it’s worth I found The Infiltrator to be largely entertaining thanks to some fine performances worth the price of admission. There’s enjoyment to be had, but don’t expect anything more substantial than some surface level fun.