As the tape recorders spin on phone calls, the planes fly over the jungle with contraband, and violence erupts in the streets, the stories of heavy-hitting drug dealers are always riddled with excitement and tension. When handled just right by the production and casting staff, you can turn out with a real winner such as “Blow”, the 2001 hit starring Jonny Depp about the man who heavily established a cocaine market in the States during the 1970s. Last year, viewers were engrossed in this made-for-Netflix drama that has Wagner Moura depicting Pablo Escobar, the kingpin from Columbia who supplied 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the United States during his peak years. When Netflix first released “Narcos”, it was accepted well, but bore the brunt of a few noticeable flaws.
Many times when a show takes up an entire series instead of a two-hour movie, it fails in the delivery, and season one of Narcos was by no means even close to not being successful. It’s average rating on Rotten Tomatoes was around 78%, and there were not stacks of elements that were wrong with it. Having a front row-set to the story of two partners hot on the trail of a major drug importer is very involved, and a perfect scenario for those that really want to huddle up and binge-watch something. As it turned out, many viewers did not take well to the narration, and felt insulted that they were being told every little thing that happened onscreen. It is still exciting enough to watch Escobar go further and further down the road that was allowing him to profit so heavily, and the attention to detail that helped you really feel the isolation he began to experience as he plunged deeper.
During season two, it is brought to light very well some of the horrible things that the DEA agents themselves must do to solve their cases, and this was a very necessary element for them to explore. Whenever a series has to follow historic events within a timetable, some people are bound to lose interest right away. While Season One of “Narcos” is showing you just what Pablo had to do to seriously take over and build more manufacturing labs in the rain forest, it has enough of a different flavor then other drug kingpin tales to keep you occupied and waiting for the next plausible thing to happen.
During season one we are shown the ruthlessness of a cartel that would use children to bring bombs on planes without any knowledge, and throw out empty promises as a common daily practice. We are shown in both seasons one and two that in areas of rampant poverty, people will do anything to get ahead, and I enjoyed how the vibe was a bit like the very well-spun Brazilian crime drama “City of God”. There is a shakiness to the slum scenes that resonates perfectly, and the camera alone can convey what it feels like to reside here among the turmoil and flagrant crime. The best part about “Narcos” is that we get to dwell and hover in on what it takes to run a drug empire, but in turn we get to ride along for a bit longer than in “Scarface” or Steven Soderberg’s electrifying “Traffic”. there is something very redeeming about watching the lost dig deeper into a mine of treachery and desperation: it is a long,hard look at the nihilistic and questionably demonic element that will always find its way through the cracks and run the world as well as the drug trade, even though we know how it all ends.