What could have simply been another series in a line of gripping drug/crime thrillers, including Breaking Bad and The Wire, Narcos brings that familiar rise and fall story but with a unique casting choice, superb directing and smooth storyline.
Narcos follows an up-and-coming Pablo Escobar as he begins his rise to power in his home of Colombia. We’re forced to watch every deal, double cross, drinking session, and each piece of brain and gut spill across our screens. The force and violence of the show, though, don’t end up compromising what’s actually and incredibly well-written and engaging screenplay in almost every episode.
Wagner Moura became Pablo Escobar. You wouldn’t have been able to pick him out from his small role in Elysium (you know you’ve seen him somewhere). Moura slipped seamlessly into the role of the power hungry kingpin that we all love to hate…and yet still love (to talk about). Less can be said of the protaganist. In that role, we have Boyd Holbrook, who plays the DEA agent who thinks he’s destined to bring down Pablo. The character of a badass DEA agent doesn’t completely translate onto the small screen with Boyd’s acting being dull and lifeless at times (SUBJECT TO OPINION).
Netflix has done well to take up a story that half of their audience has never heard of (unless you’ve watched Entourage, then it’s been drilled into your head by a whole season’s worth of psychotic repetition of the name Medillin) and the other half have probably just forgotten about. The history of Pablo and the effects of his massive operation, which can still be seen having its effect on us today, has been well translated to the small screen.
Many have tried and failed to recreate the terror and shock value of Escobar’s reign over the world of drugs and war. He looks like he could be your neighbor’s Dad, and yet underneath he was perhaps on the same level of unashamed and constant violence and, in a way, genocide as one Adolf Hitler. How do you put that on screen and make it compelling, while not getting preachy?
Watch Narcos and you’ll see how.