Based on the book by former Detective Sergeant Colin McLaren, Underbelly Files: Infiltration is a dark look into Griffith (south-western New South Wales) from 1992 to 2002, during the reign of the Australian Calabresian Mafia – the N’Drangheta. McLaren and his team were set up to monitor and to work to bring down the Mafia on the authority of the Australian Government. No small task, and one that put many lives in danger (and cost a few in the process.
This Underbelly Files drama continues the high standard of one-off featurettes being delivered by Screentime to start the year, and is no slouch. McLaren (Sullivan Stapleton) is a driven single dad, out to corner and conquer the bad guys. The bad guys at the top. Antonio Russo (Valentino del Toro) is proving himself as the new boss in every vicious and determined manner he has to. This episode is their story – the surveillance, the infiltration, and ultimately the betrayal.
Infiltration is delivered in the same gritty style as the franchise, however it’s notable by being the first episode not narrated by Caroline Craig. There’s some token T&A – far less than previous series – but it’s colour to a great story. Stapleton is superbly calm & determined and Jessica Napier as Jude Gleeson provides a convincing performance both as a Stapleton’s pretend fiance and as a cop scared out of her pants (understandably). Where one wrong move could mean revealing yourself… and therefore death.
This episode is another great watch, and builds on the success of the series to date. The telemovie delivery allows people to connect with great story-telling without having to have watched the last X episodes to know the characters, thus the development of characters and plot sweeps along nicely. It also delivers a number of faces that viewers may find familiar (even from past Underbelly seasons). Tottie Goldsmith puts in a great supporting turn.
Underbelly Files: Infiltration is an excellent night’s viewing – choose your bathroom breaks wisely – you won’t want to miss a minute.
“Infiltration is about burrowing into your target’s hearts. Winning their trust, and living their lives with them for however long it takes. As long as they don’t twig to you first… they’ll kill you.” – Colin McLaren (Sullivan Stapleton).
Underbelly Files: Infiltration – 8:30pm Mon 14/02, Ch9
Image/Video sources – Ch9.