Terrible title for a terrible movie. Not even Heisenberg could save this cold and disjointed crime thriller. Watch Narcos instead.
A U.S. Customs official (Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad) uncovers a money laundering scheme involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
A meandering and uninteresting crime biopic. Shame. Let’s start with the positives (That will be about a paragraph).
The opening was engaging enough as we watched agent Robert Mazur in play (Even if it was Hal in a badly dyed wig and tash). I couldn’t believe the number of British actors popping up in small (and tragically meaningless) roles; Daniel Mays (Dad’s Army), Leanne Best (Line of Duty) and Joseph Gilgun (Misfits).
I was intrigued as Mazur had to fake a heart attack to cover up the fact that the bug he was wearing was actually frying his chest. You could feel for the chap as retirement reared its ugly head. Desperately seeking one operation, one bust that will truly make a dent on this relentless drug war.
It was interesting to see the strain that the scheme took on Mazur’s wife. Juliet Aubrey (The Constant Gardener) and Bryan Cranston had good chemistry. At first, Evelyn was understanding and supportive as Bob confides in her every detail BUT as he delves deeper into the underbelly and his cover became entwined with his personal life, things began to take their toll.
An uncomfortable anniversary dinner took a turn for the worse as the couple bump into one of Mazur’s targets. A moment involving a birthday cake was probably one of the best scenes in the film. Cranston was able to show why he won all those Emmys and highlight the pressure of keeping two personas.
It was a little disappointing that the momentum couldn’t be carried. The agonizing pace really didn’t help the piece. There were good portions of the film that dragged unnecessarily.
I’m not sure whether it was a case of writer Ellen Sue Brown sticking too close to the original novel based on Mazur’s life BUT it really wasn’t an interesting one. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to establish that Escobar was filtering his money through America and various places around the world. Once we witnessed Bob initiate a few shady deals and droll out some financial statistics, there wasn’t much else on offer.
John Leguizamo’s character was the most interesting one as the unstable Emir Abreu. BUT he still annoyed the hell out of me. The banter and one liners not quite jumping out at you and coming off flat and unfunny. BUT at least his character got things going. Introducing Mazur to the very underworld he wants to bring down.
There were a couple of tense moments as Abreu had to protect Mazur’s cover and deal with his own C.I. that was going out of his way to cause problems. BUT for all the potential trouble it suggested, nothing really came of it. Once Mazur got to the people he needed to, Abreu was pushed into the background and only brought back for the dismal finale.
And that was the main problem. It was all build up with no pay-off. It spent so long setting everything up and then ended abruptly with some mind-numbing disappointing statistics and bio footnotes in the closing credits. BUT by the end I couldn’t care less.
Diane Kruger did her best as Kathy Ertz; Mazur’s undercover wife. The writer teased a growing closeness between the pair BUT it was never really explored. Some much needed drama that could have added to the strain on Mazur’s real wife. However, it was reduced to an awkward encounter between the two ladies that just didn’t work.
Benjamin Bratt did his best with the role of Roberto Alcaino BUT he delivered more gusto and tenacity as El Macho in Despicable Me 2. The promising cast were wasted. Amy Ryan was reduced to playing a stocky CIA operative. Dull. Gilgun wasn’t in it enough as Dominic. He has come a long way from Emmerdale.
Joshua Reis’ cinematography was great to look at BUT there were only so many badly choreographed flashy neon stripper dances to cracking 80s tunes that could distract me from the monotonous clichéd and generic crime drivel that we’ve seen time and time again.
A movie of mere moments that never really took off. It was a little infuriating to see the Breaking Bad star take another foray into the drug business BUT at the same time if anyone could have made it work, you would have banked on Walter White.
You know you’re onto a loser when the main villain is reduced to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it walking cameo.
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