“Narcos”, A Review

Pablo Escobar (portrayed by Wagner Moura)

Pablo Escobar (portrayed by Wagner Moura)

Imagine yourself coming from an extremely impoverished section in Colombia in the 1970s-80’s and having nothing but your family…with an undying dream that you’ll be a millionaire by the age of 22.

The series, fictionalized but grounded by real events, tells the story of Pablo Escobar (portrayed by Brazilian actor Wagner Moura) and other drug traffickers discovering that a lot of money could be sent to their pockets, just by hooking up wealthy Americans on cocaine. We see the story unfold partly, as narrated by the voice of Steve Murphy (portrayed by Boyd Holbrook), DEA agent who’s among those getting dispatched to Colombia from the United States, to help shore up the eventual drug trade.

According to the man behind producing the series, Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha admitted that the series was partly influenced by “Goodfellas”, as the film contained voice-overs. While “Narcos” is mostly cut between camera shots of actual historical footage and dramatized scenes, we hear Murphy describing what exactly is taking place, even though the audience barely knows who he is. As the series goes on, the plot increasingly thickens, with not only the conflict between Pablo Escobar’s illegal exploits and the officials who are trying to crack down on the business, but also the illicit business boom as Colombia’s political and law enforcement systems become paralyzingly corrupted by Pablo Escobar’s cocaine money. Add in to the already hellish brewing of the tornado, the United States’ anti-drug and anti-Communist campaigns led by Ronald Reagan become intertwined.

As we get to know Pablo Escobar, through the prize-worthy acting of Wagner Moura, he expresses a concern for the impoverished and pledges to change the economic situation by attempting to run for office. While juggling the ever-growing business, running for public office and trying to be a family man, when he’s having an affair with a reporter, all the while ordering assassinations and bombings, everything eventually catches up to him. Towards to the mid to late part of the series, it’s to his own inability to keep everything to a minimal that everyone in his own circle begins to doubt his leadership and commitment to the business. Due to his criminal-like and even terrorist antics, everyone from his loyal lieutenants to the other kingpins in the Medellin cartel, go into sheer un-organizational chaos.

“Narcos” has its fair share of violence–and with every character you meet that shows any life of interest in combating the drug kingpins, you begin to fear for their life. This happens immediately when Murphy’s cat becomes pivotal in the third episode, and at the same as a pair of airport employees leak copies of Murphy’s passport to Escobar’s organization.

A classic “good guys-bad guys” intertwined with mystery and exotic settings has made “Narcos” a must-watch among all audiences.

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