Bryan Cranston plays Robert Mazur, a crazy dad who gets deep into the world of drug dealing and organised crime, so he’s in familiar territory, but this time plays an undercover cop following the money trail towards the Mr Big who’s running the operation.
The comparisons are obvious but this is not as good a film as either Donnie Brasco or The Departed. It lacks those films’ complexity and subtlety, with a number of scenes that feel remarkably clumsy for a film based on actual events. The inevitable marital strife caused by Robert’s undercover work in particular feels like turf that’s been trodden to death.
Cranston is predictably strong in the lead role, but the other characters fail to make much impact. The narrative impulse should be tied to the fact that Robert is expected to befriend and then betray the criminals, but none of them are likeable enough to make it feel like he has any real choice in the matter.
It also feels rather badly timed. It’s essentially a film about a law enforcer on the front line of the war on drugs, even though the policy is now widely regarded as a failure and is in the process of being unpicked worldwide.
In spite of its high aspirations this film is at best a moderately enjoyable if run-of-the-mill thriller, which is probably why it fell well below the radar on its release.