Review: Narcos


by Kevin Muller

Colombia, the country loved by Mr. Pablo Escobar.  His love for his country’s freedom and prosperity was the utmost importance to him.   Even though life dealt him a rough card, he still believed in and wanted to protect in his motherland.    How far did he go to achieve that goal?  For Escobar, the sky was the limit.

What makes “Narcos” a stand out from other Netflix originals is how seriously it commits to its authenticity.   From the beautiful landscapes of the Colombian countryside to the violent streets;  these aren’t a Hollywood sets or another city standing in its place.  No, this is the real Colombia.   It is one of the many wise decisions that sell this story of, not only one of the country’s most feared men, but powerful one too.  For those of you who hate reading subtitles, steer clear because  in many episodes English is the second language.  Whenever Escobar and his friends are conversing, it is all in Spanish.   It is a wise decision since most people don’t see how ridiculous it is when foreign characters speak in our native tongue.

Netflix has paired with Telemundo to give us the story of a young and poor Colombian who rose to power by walking on the bad side.  All of the interesting information about Pablo and the events surrounding his life are told through the narration by Steve Murphy.   Murphy, is one half of the team that plans to take down Escobar.  Along with Javier Pena, the two hit constant roadblocks trying to catch Colombia’s coke dealing king.   It is incredibly shocking to see how much Escobar had his hand in every faucet in the country.   Many episodes show Murphy and Pena having a major upper hand only to be sidelined by someone who works for Escobar.    Murphy is played by Boyd Holbrook who provides the narration for all the events going on screen, does well with his character.  Yes, the constant voice over does get a bit much at times, but he does have the right voice to sell the script’s abundant information.    Pedro Pascal, plays Pena as a hardworking, tough, but flawed character.  He is a man who likes his vices, mostly sexual, but shares Murphy’s same passion for taking down the criminal aspect of the country.    As in Pascal’s former show, “Game of Thrones,” the violence here is brutal and unrelenting.  Well, this show isn’t as graphic but the unknowing factor of what witness, friend, coworker, or anyone who works against or for Escobar, that will survive long enough to damage his power, is something that gives the series the thrills it thrives on.   It also adds to the frightening power that Escobar had over the people.

One part of this series that is total ace is the performance by Wagner Moura.   Every note is hit perfectly by him.    Born in Brazil, which the native language is Portuguese, Moura had to learn the native tongue of his Colombian counterpart.  The performance goes way beyond the language though.  Moura nails the demand for respect that Escobar has whenever he walks into a room.     Escobar was a disgusting individual who benefited off his own people’s misery.  Here, he still maintains his negative qualities but does have humanity.   Certain scenes where he has to separate from his wife and children are touching since his kids don’t know his lifestyle.   Moura can also be downright scary through a glare, a speech, or the way his eyes just lack empathy.   It is a performance that you just can’t help to watch and kind of root for him to win, even though the outcome of his life is known.

Escobar’s story isn’t that long due to the notion that ‘the house always wins.”   The house, being the good guys, so the series won’t go on forever.   It is still fun to see how Escobar will outsmart and out power those around him.   Moura, who received many award recognition for this role, is the real standout here.  All television series find their stride in the second season.   A show this good makes you think how much better can it get?   

4 out of 5 Hairpieces

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