els bastards

Narcos, candidate for series of the year

It accurately portrays 1980s Colombia with quite simply some jaw-dropping performances

Netflix is making us nervous once again. Ten online episodes of a series called Narcos about the life of Pablo Escobar, under the direction of José Padilha (Elite Squad, Robocop)? Surely it cannot be true.

With a style that evokes Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas (1990) –especially with its first-person narrator who explains the obstacles to catching Escobar– the series went straight on to my list of series of the year, particularly due to the quality of its narration and cinematography. It also accurately portrays a particular period –1980s Colombia– with quite simply some jaw-dropping performances.

Portraying Escobar's life and his Medellin cartel, the most powerful and wealthiest in the history of cocaine trafficking, is mixed with the attempts by the DEA to catch the mobster. The story moves from Colombia's political circles, to those of Reagan and his closest acolytes, via Augusto Pinochet and Manuel Noriega, all beneath the shadow of the Soviet Union in a fresh retelling of history that sticks to the facts and relies on the impeccable performances, I say again, of the actors involved.

Comparing Narcos to The Americans, for me, is inevitable. If in the first series we have actors who speak and act in perfect Latin American Spanish with English subtitles against a background that faithfully recreates Colombia of the eighties, The Americans scuppers itself in its wonky portrayal of two Soviet infiltrators during the Cold War who, to European eyes at least, are just too stereotypically American in the way they speak and behave, even to the point of sometime making you chuckle. I would like to stress this point –already mentioned in previous articles– to highlight the shortcomings of some reviews that put The Americans above Narcos when the latter provides a 100% believable scenario, without any cracks, that appears sculpted with the precision of a scalpel.

If you are a fan of Brian de Palma's Scarface, if Traffic (2000), Blow (2001) or The True Story of Killing Pablo (2002) were right up your alley, then this is the series for you.

You will love it. Bastard's honour.

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