Real-life espionage and firefighting plus Egyptian fantasy

IT IS always with a little trepidation that I let the significant other choose a film to watch of a weekend.

This is because we invariably end up in space and I do not always want an intergalactic experience.

However, I was pleasantly surprised with The Infiltrator, now available to rent or buy via the usual means.

It is set very much on earth and those responsible for the scenes and styling do a sterling job of taking us back to 1985.

Bryan Cranston looks like he is up to no good in the opening sequence. There is a drug deal going down in a Florida bowling alley and in he saunters in his biker jacket, trading some shady tobacco-chewing dialogue with a couple of underworld connections before dropping to his knees in pain. Heart attack? Acid reflux?

When police interrupt proceedings and he is bundled into the back of a meat wagon, the source of the injury becomes clear – it is a short circuit from the wire he has been wearing, burning an angry hole in his chest.

Cranston is Robert Mazur, a real-life special agent whose autobiography has been turned into this movie. He worked for US Customs and was central to the disassembly of Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel.

While holding down a conventional family life with two rug rats and a wife (Juliet Aubrey) who is imploring him to retire (‘one last job, honey’), he masquerades as dodgy financier Bob (or Baaaaaarb as his associates pronounce it in their drawl) Musella and lures the drug barons and their complicit Arab bankers into washing their dirty money in plain sight so prosecutions are possible.

Much like the ‘would you rather’ game with the sharks a couple of weeks back, this film very much triggers the ‘when would you soil your underwear’ game as Mazur/Musella heads deeper and deeper into the squalid and dangerous underworld.

With him goes police station secretary Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger), dipping her toe in espionage for the first time as his fictitious fiancée. She is surprisingly adept at it however, speaking multiple languages and wearing priceless pearls with aplomb.

There are moments where his nerves must have been in shreds as the cover is nearly blown. The old-skool James Bond-style briefcase, containing recording reels, is compromised at one point and he has to unleash some shocking outrage in a restaurant where the poor waiter has more than a small sliver of anniversary cake.

I must have been in a generous mood as I relinquished control of the remote for a second night and we ended up with The Mummy.

Tom Cruise will always have a special place in my heart as we know (Top Gun – the man I was going to marry), but how has he managed to hotfoot it into this franchise? Finances and star power I am guessing in return for creative control – and allegedly a plot change so the angry Egyptian princess possesses Cruise’s character (grave robber Nick Morton) so his screen time was extended considerably.

Plus it calls for a lot of running and swimming and jumping and swinging and surviving against the odds and he likes doing a lot of that – with crashes and explosions and CGI creepy-crawlies to boot.

In short, here is the story: Morton has engaged in sexual relations with an archaeologist (Annabelle Wallis) for the purposes of stealing a map to an ancient tomb in Northern Iraq. It is not a grave though we are told, it is a prison. And it is Egyptian, although miles from Egypt.

I am getting confused now, but either way, it always seems a very bad idea indeed to muck about with burial sites of long-lost civilisations. And I am proved so right.

Cack-handed Cruise unleashes the curse. Pulleys whirr, mercury canals churn and a grim-faced sarcophagus rises to wreak havoc – Sofia Boutella as Princess Ahmanet (I think a Rachel Weisz echo with her physiognomy). Wreaking havoc on the Cockney accent meanwhile is evil-eyed Russell Crowe as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Possessed birds; Crusader Knights, an ambulance as a getaway vehicle that can outrun a demon. I’m just missing the Scooby-Doo figure in bandages. Oh, it’s a rainy-day romp if ever there was one. Ridiculous yet eminently watchable. The most terrifying curse it seems is letting Cruise anywhere near a film these days.

TV pick? Mr Iris’ final choice: Inside London Fire Brigade, two of the three episodes now on the ITV hub with the final one airing this week.

A television crew happened to be with the night shift for the Grenfell Tower fire in London and we are given an insight into the impact that had – professionally, physically and emotionally.

Firefighters were wearing body cameras, so we get a sense of the conditions they faced.

We are taken to a number of other 999 calls to see what the service is dealing with. It is one of the better, more fair and accurate reflections I am told – by someone who does the job himself.


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