Wives are always giving their husbands shit about something. You’re insensitive, you always wait too long to take out the garbage, you’re too randy, you’re too work-obsessed, you’re not randy enough, you could be a better provider, you don’t spend enough time with the kids, you lack sensitivity, you’re flabby. But wait until you hear the complaints in The Infiltrator, an ’80s cocaine-trade thriller about a real-life customs agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) who infiltrated the ranks of Pablo Escobar associates by pretending to be a flashy money launderer. They’re lulus.
They can be summed up as (a) “You put too much gusto into your impersonations when drug dealers are around” and (b) “The agent who’s pretending to be your wife in the field is too hot, and that’s entirely your fault.”
The already famous waiter-brutalizing scene in The Infiltrator — (l. to r.) Pablo Escobar associate, waiter getting head pushed into birthday cake, Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston), Mazur’s rock-stupid wife Evelyn (Juliet Aubrey).
The gripes are on the idiotic side, but that’s…I was about to say irrational complaints are to be expected in any marriage but let’s be fair and balanced. And yet the fact is that Cranston absorbs some highly negative criticism from Juliet Aubrey (as Mazur’s wife Evelyn) — late in the second act, early in the third — that is forehead-slapping dumb.
93% of the film is about Cranston’s Mazur pretending to be slippery financier Bob Musella. If Mazur’s performance isn’t note-perfect the drug barons will smell a rat and kill him. Surely he’s told his wife this basic fact, and surely she understands that if he runs into one of these guys unexpectedly, he has to instantly and convincingly become “Bob Musella.” Obviously.
And yet when Mazur and his wife are out celebrating their anniversary at a nice restaurant, one of the Escobar guys strolls over and says “hey!”, and so Mazur, naturally, goes right into his act. And soon after he angrily chews out a waiter for serving a wedding anniversary cake (which in fact he had ordered) and not a birthday cake. Then he grabs the waiter and shoves his head into the cake. If the Escobar guy had suspected Mazur/Musella had, in fact, ordered an anniversary cake, the jig would be totally up.
This cuts no ice with Evelyn/Juliet. On the drive home she’s shocked — shocked! — that Cranston could behave so abominably, and in public yet! If the death-ray looks she gives him were radioactive he’d be dead in 15 minutes. Inner Evelyn/Juliet dialogue: “I realize you have to protect yourself and your family by impersonating Bob Musella whenever necessary, but that poor helpless waiter! That horrible way you acted! Your temper! Good God, who am I married to?
“I’ll tell you right now you’re not getting any sex from me for weeks, if not months. You need to admonished, punished.”
Later on Evelyn/Juliet becomes upset when she notices that Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger), the agent pretending to be Musella’s wife, is a highly attractive blonde. Please tell me she won’t ask Cranston/Mazur if he’s sleeping with Kruger/Ertz. Please tell me she won’t ask Cranston/Mazur if he’s sleeping with Kruger/Ertz. Please tell…aaaghh, she asked it!
Cranston had nothing to do with assigning Kruger — he actually objected but his boss (played by Amy Ryan) insisted. That doesn’t stop Aubrey from losing it. “My marriage is under threat! Bryan says he loves me but all men are liars and dogs. Kruger is blonde, youngish and hotter than I, and therefore he must be fucking her. I’m calling a lawyer tomorrow!”
If it weren’t for Evelyn’s dialogue and behavior (the screenplay is by Ellen Brown Furman, mother of director Brad Furman), The Infiltrator would be an okay, good-enough, made-for-Netflix film. I was more or less down with it. But because of her, I can’t give it a complete pass. Sorry.