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Arts & Culture

'The Infiltrator' Serves Up Solid Real Life Procedural Thriller

Diane Kruger and Bryan Cranston are undercover agents tracking the money in Pablo Escobar's drug empire in "The Infiltrator."
Broad Green Pictures
Diane Kruger and Bryan Cranston are undercover agents tracking the money in Pablo Escobar's drug empire in "The Infiltrator."

Bryan Cranston delivers another stellar performance

Companion viewing

"Prince of the City" (1981)

"Infernal Affairs" (2002)

"Breaking Bad" (2008-13)

"The East" (2013)

If you want to support women in film this weekend don't see the all-female "Ghostbusters" that just regurgitates an old all-male film but with women and instead see “The Infiltrator" featuring a male lead in Bryan Cranston but scripted by a woman, Ellen Sue Brown, and serving up female roles that go beyond stereotypes.

Ignore the so-called feminists trying to rally people to go see the all-female remake of “Ghostbusters." An article back in May proclaimed that it was every feminist's obligation to see the new "Ghostbusters" film.

The kind of "feminism" presented in this article aggravates me. If you really are a feminist it is — to use the article's language — your "obligation" to bypass "Ghostbusters," which does nothing to empower women or even give us interesting female characters that step out of stereotypes.

Give your box office dollars this weekend to "The Infiltrator," a film written by Ellen Sue Brown. Five women in producer positions also helped make the movie.

Another option: Save your money for next weekend and the feature film version of "Absolutely Fabulous," which has female leads and ones who are refreshingly older than what Hollywood usually allows.

But returning to "The Infiltrator," this is a film that doesn't try to wave a feminist flag yet it moves the needle forward on presenting realistic and strong female characters.

Bryan Cranston plays the lead in this true story about a sting operation and the young, inexperienced female partner he is given doesn't fall into the trope of being incompetent or needing to be rescued by a man. She is smart and proves to be an effective part of the sting operation.

Similarly, the wife doesn't fall into a stereotypical supporting role but has dimension. And Cranston's character doesn't fall into a cliched romantic relationship with his sexy partner but rather remains faithful to his marriage vows. Plus Amy Ryan plays his no-nonsense boss.

And on top of all that, the film is good.

Giving money to "Ghostbusters" only encourages Hollywood to make formulaic, unimaginative films that keep women in limited roles. If "Ghostbusters" is a financial success it will simply make a lot of old, white men in executive offices smile and fill their pockets with cash.

Creating films with strong female characters is something Cranston also did with "Trumbo," which he ushered to the screen. That film gave us Diane Lane, Elle Fanning and Helen Mirren in impressive supporting roles where the women helped drive the plot forward and weren't just along for the ride.

For “The Infiltrator," Cranston turns to another real life figure, this time Robert Mazur.

In the film, Mazur says, "This is what I do, I’m an undercover narcotics agent and I sit with murderers and made men and I lie, I lie my ass off."

Cranston plays Mazur who goes deep undercover to follow the money in Pablo Escobar’s drug trafficking empire. The film’s a solidly crafted procedural thriller boosted by exceptional acting. Cranston in particular provides insight into what drives someone to take on a dangerous job and not succumb to any of the temptations.

The film also gives us strong female characters in Diane Kruger’s surprisingly savvy young agent and Amy Ryan’s tough boss.

"The Infiltrator" (rated R for strong violence, language throughout, some sexual content and drug material) proves yet again that Cranston is an exciting actor to watch and that he's a actor who's taking an active role in finding good projects.