Netflix original “Narcos” another critical success

Hannah Finnerty and Hannah Finnerty

The story of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar is one that has been recycled countless times in cinema, from “Medellín” to “Sins of My Father.” Netflix played a risky game in tapping into an overdone plot show about the “King of Cocaine,” but their new original series “Narcos” puts a new spin on the true tale and pulls off the task in a discerning and effective way.

Offering viewers a peek into the drug cartels of Colombia as well as into the investigators working to stop the flood of cocaine into America, “Narcos” offers its viewers a chance to see all the players at work during the 80s that came together to stop what was once the biggest threat to United States’ security: drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Wagner Moura beautifully portrays Escobar’s journey from small time cigarette smuggler to cocaine kingpin. His adaptable acting allows us to see all dimensions of Escobar: the loving father and husband, the ruthless murderer when he is wronged and the manipulative criminal. While Escobar would be considered the “bad guy” in this crime drama, it is a challenge to hold a grudge against the frenzied and emotional character Moura offers up.

On the other side of the table, Boyd Holbrook (“Gone Girl”) plays Steve Murphy, an ambitious DEA agent that relocates himself to Colombia with his wife, also the narrator throughout the show. Holbrook’s acting gets the job done, considering Murphy’s character development is practically non-existent. The show hardly touches on his personal life and chooses to instead focus almost solely on the case against Escobar.

Murphy’s partner, Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal), carries a bit more weight on his shoulders and brings a little more depth and direction to the “good guys.” Still, the writers of the show seem to avoid diving into the personal life of these two. Perhaps it is the simplicity and brevity of Murphy and Peña that makes them the perfect pair of DEA agents to challenge the complexity of Escobar and the Medellin cartel.

The subtitles get a little annoying the further into the show you progress, but the authenticity and historical accuracy of the show make it not only the bloody and violent show you would expect, but also relatively educational. The historical elements really add to the show. Of course not every aspect is historically accurate, as it is historical fiction, but director Jose Padilha wanted to push across the point that Escobar and the Medellin drug cartel had a vital part in introducing illegal narcotics into the United States. He did just that.

After just a week of streaming, the show was renewed for a second season, proving what many have already discovered, that “Narcos” can definitely hold its own against other Netflix original series such as “Marco Polo.” Maybe it has not gained quite the attention and fan base of “Orange is the New Black,” but the purpose and message of “Narcos” is quite different. Some say the message channeled through the show is one of anti-drug sentiment. But perhaps this show isn’t about how drugs can drive people to do crazy, unspeakable acts, but rather how the power of money is capable of doing the exact same thing.