Bryan Cranston gives another stellar performance here as U.S Customs Official Robert Mazur who goes undercover to bring down the trafficking network that leads to Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar. He joins fellow agent Kathy - as his covert fiancée - (Diane Kruger) and his colleague Emir (a brilliant turn by John Leguizamo) and becomes a money laundering businessman named Bob Musella. From then on Mazur envelopes himself in the drug underworld and gets knee deep in the action in order to get closer to the kingpin himself and bring them all down for good.
This biographical drama builds tension well from the beginning and gives a real insight into this corrupt organisation that still exists today. The film is effortlessly shot and even features a crackled print that looks as if it was filmed in the 80’s which really projects you into the story. It also features a superb soundtrack that goes in line with the time and the nature of the story perfectly.
The performances are impressive across the entire cast. It’s nice to see John Leguizamo in a role that gets him involved a bit more as he’s been a supporting actor for quite some time now. He gives a fantastic turn as Emir; charismatic but grounded he pulls it off perfectly. The same goes for Benjamin Bratt who also hasn’t been seen on the big screen in a while. He plays Roberto Alcaino, Mazur’s top Lieutenant whom he must win the trust of. Bratt is sincere and understated and wins us over even though he’s essentially playing one of the bad guys. Kruger also gives a tender performance as Robert’s undercover fiancée; she holds her own and is more than just the typical female counterpart.
However, of course it’s Cranston who really stands out here and makes it difficult for us to ever take our eyes off him. He carries this bold presence with him when he enters the screen and he nails every role he’s ever taken on. He is charming yet fierce as Robert; proving himself versatile and capable of taking on any part in any genre. The only element that slightly lets this film down just a little is the climax. It all moved so intensely up until that point and then it just felt a bit rushed but this doesn’t take away from a solid, superbly written and acted film that’s informing and engaging.