Narcos is a Netflix original television series about Pablo Escobar and the DEA agents trying to catch him. It’s based on real people and actual events, and everything that happens in the show has some basis in reality. The series uses a lot of archival footage which further reminds the viewer that all this shit actually happened, it wasn’t just conceived by a roomful of writers, and that’s frightening. Pablo Escobar was a real criminal who became larger than life. This series tells his story. It doesn’t sympathize him, it humanizes him. It doesn’t hide the fact that he’s a bad person, it shows that he’s still a person.
If you don’t know about Pablo Escobar, allow me to give you a crash course. He grew up poor in Colombia, started his life of crime as a teenager selling contraband cigarettes and fake lotto tickets, before moving into kidnapping and smuggling. Eventually he found his niche as a cocaine smuggler and became the most powerful and wealthy criminal on the planet. He portrayed himself as a Robin Hood figure, giving money to the poor, building hospitals, schools, housing projects, churches, and soccer stadiums. He also bombed buildings and airplanes and put up a bounty for killing police officers. He had mansions, private islands, a fleet of planes, his own army, a zoo, held political office, and was worth over fifty billion dollars. All told, he was a pretty interesting guy.
Narcos brings you inside his world over the course of ten episodes. The storyline is split between Pablo Escobar and Steve Murphy, the DEA agent trying to catch him. Escobar’s parts are spoken in Spanish and are subtitled into English, so yes, there is some reading required if don’t hablo the español. Murphy’s parts are in English, and over the course of the season you can see him learning and speaking more Spanish as time goes on.
The cast is relatively unknown. Wagner Moura plays Pablo Escobar, Boyd Holbrook plays Steve Murphy, and I never heard of either of them until Narcos. The most recognizable actor is probably Luis Guzmán. The lack of famous faces makes it easier to focus on the characters and story. And it’s a damn good story. Go watch it now.
Critically Rated at 15/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young