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The Infiltrator

A down-on-his-luck reporter, Svoray wrangles an assignment to cover an outbreak of skinhead violence in Berlin.

A down-on-his-luck reporter, Svoray wrangles an assignment to cover an outbreak of skinhead violence in Berlin.

Soon after arriving, Svoray — using the pseudonym Ron Furey — hooks up with the thugs, who mistake him for a sympathizer and put him in touch with Gunther Fischer (Tony Haygarth), who is as unwavering in his devotion to the Fuhrer as he is otherwise charming.

Platt and Haygarth do a fine job of showing the growing friendship between this unlikely pair, and succeed in provoking in viewers the same ambivalent feelings toward Fischer that Svoray has. Helmer John Mackenzie and writer Guy Andrews avoid cliches and simple heroes-and-villains structure, creating complex , intriguing characters.

Returning to L.A. in horror, Svoray contacts the Simon Weisenthal center — Peter Riegert and Alan King play the head rabbis of the well-funded, media-savvy Nazi-hunting outfit — hoping they’ll help him.

They send him back, first representing and then accompanied by a rich right-wing extremist who wants to fund illegal activities in the Fatherland– but who’s actually a Weisenthal Center researcher (Arliss Howard).

With Svoray/Furey’s return to Berlin, the story takes on the not altogether convincing tone of an espionage thriller, as he gets closer and closer to the upper echelons of German Nazism.

“The Infiltrator” offers horrors both grand and intimate. While the thought of modern-day Nazi rallies are certainly disturbing, it’s the smaller moments that really stick. When Fischer invites “Furey” to a meeting of influential, affluent Nazis, an effort is made to seduce this rich American. So Furey is brought in to meet Hitler’s old valet, who pours his guest some wine in a fancy crystal glass. Fischer tells him it was Hitler’s glass and says, “Hey Ron, you can tell your children you kissed the Fuhrer.”

Svoray’s horror and repulsion must be hidden behind Furey’s sense of honor, and Platt acts this conflict beautifully. It’s indicative of the overall high quality of perfs and production values in this film.

“The Infiltrator” is powerful TV, all the more unsettling for reminding us that right-wing extremism didn’t die with Hitler.

The Infiltrator

(Sat. (24), 8-10 p.m., HBO)

Production: Filmed in Germany and England by HBO Showcase in association with Francine LeFrak Prods. and Carnival Films Prods. Executive producers, Francine LeFrak, Colin Callender; producer, Brian Eastman; co-producer, David Obst; director, John Mackenzie; writer, Guy Andrews; story, Robert J. Avrech, Andrews, based on the book "In Hitler's Shadow" by Yaron Svoray and Nick Taylor; camera, Mick Coulter; editor, Graham Walker; production design, Leo Austin; art direction, Diane Dancklefsen; sound, Peter Glossop; music, Hal Lindes. #Cast: Oliver Platt, Arliss Howard, Tony Haygarth, Michael Byrne, Julian Glover, George Jackos, Alex Kingston, Jonathan Phillips, Peter Riegert, Alan King, Colin Stinton, Anne Reid, Christian Redl, Werner Dissel, Michael Lade, Sven Martinek, Celia Montague, George Raistrick, Ermo Godelt, Andrew Callaway, Konstantin Graudus, Albert Kitzl, Sila Ginar, Nezaket Selbus, Ewan Bailey, Zahar Gondal, Eva Maria Kerckhoff, George Roubicek, Sheila Ruskin, Ingrid Von Bothmar, Huseyin Poyraz, Andreas Markos, Saffron Amir, Adam Joyce, Sam Cook, Derek Lea, Mark Lisbon. Timing, as they say, is everything, and it's timing that adds resonant, tragic punctuation to HBO's docudrama "The Infiltrator." Although the pic would shine without the help, the still-fresh memories of the right-wing extremist bombing of the federal office building in Oklahoma City make this film a summer TV standout. Beyond the compelling story, "The Infiltrator" is powered by a strong, nuanced performance by Oliver Platt as Israeli-born, L.A.-based Jewish freelance reporter Yaron Svoray, who inadvertently uncovered a conspiracy of present-day neo-Nazis in Germany. With his round face, rumpled appearance and smart-aleck attitude, Platt creates a decidedly unconventional hero, and it's precisely his Everyman quality that brings home the terror of Svoray's discoveries.

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