Escobar: Paradise Lost

In the 80s, Nick Brady (Josh Hutcherson) a Canadian surfer goes into Columbia with his brother Dylan (Brady Corbet) to live a life of the free on a beautiful beach.

Here they face their share of trouble being 'outsiders'  when a gang of brothers threaten them and expect payment to be allowed to do business in the village. Nick and his brother think they will be forgotten and go about life as usual. Nick is instantly drawn to Maria (Claudia Triassic) who is absolutely stunning as young Colombian working on social development projects in her village. Nick and Maria's courtship forms a brief interlude to a peaceful part of the movie. Their youth and cheer provides some contrast to the violence we expect as a staple of Columbia and Escobar. Remember, we as viewers are aware of all this but poor Nick at the time is not.

As they get serious Nick gets to meet Maria's uncle, Pablo Escobar (Benicio Del toro). Unaware of the notoriety of Escobar and under the illusion that he is just a wealthy do gooder, Nick is drawn into the family and ends up mystified by the enigmatic and dominating personality of Escobar.

As time passes by, in the background of the changing political and legal scenario backed by the USA's war on drugs, Nick slowly sees Escobar for who he is- a ruthless and powerful drug lord. The director Adnrea Di Stefnao beautifully shows the dilemma Nick faces because everybody else seems to accept Escobar's business as normal. His niece Maria says it very simply, "My uncle exports Columbia's largest product"  (Do not remember the exact words). Some fabulous dialogues from Benicio, especially loved the one- "God ?  God didn't have anything to do with it Nick. You did' when Nick finds out Benicio's men were responsible for making the local gang threatening him and Dylan, go away (burnt alive actually!)

The tale culminates in choices to be made by the characters and shows different sides of he characters Nick sees. Benicio Del Toro captures every scene he is in and dominates over all. His physical appearance, mannerisms are all designed to add menace without seemingly being overtly threatening. I found the movie a treat just to watch him. Josh and Claudia do a good job but are no match for Benicio's sheers presence.

Is the movie worth watching ? I would say yes, just for Benicio's performance (not his best though. Does not beat his turn in Traffic or Usual Suspects) and to watch Josh away from his Hunger Games avatar. The movie is just about okay for its story while has an interesting premise and plot line does not have an equally interesting climax or ending.

ps: This is not a true story but is allegedly based on a similar incident of a foreigner getting friendly with some gang member and getting into trouble.


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