In Colombia, a young surfer meets the woman of his dreams – and then he meets her uncle, Pablo Escobar.
“Escobar: Paradise Lost” tells a fictitious story within the confines of real life. Much like James Cameron’s “Titanic”, in which the two lead fictional characters and their love story were intertwined into the real-life events of that fateful night in 1912, the same is done here with fabricated characters and story arcs placed squarely within the real-life environment of Colombian drug lord Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria. The movie starts out with Nick (Josh Hutcherson), who is visiting his brother Dylan (Brady Corbet) in Colombia, who has a small business on the beach when he meets a local girl, Maria (Claudia Traisac) and they fall in love.
He finds out that her uncle is Pablo Escobar (Benicio Del Toro) and not aware of his illegal drug trafficking and notorious reputation, he is quickly accepted into the family. Over time, he and Maria become closer and are eventually engaged but as Escobar tries his hand at local politics, word starts to spread in the media about his corrupt practices and previous criminal convictions and with the government ready to seize all of his assets and arrest him and his family, he must depend on those near and dear to him to prove their loyalty, without hesitation. He requests Nick’s help with a job that requires him to travel out of the city and naturally he obliges but things go south when he realizes that he was set up and manages to escape with his life.
The movie bounces back and forth between Nick who is holed up in a small town with the local corrupt police force and military closing in on his location and Escobar, who is tying up all loose ends before voluntarily turning himself over to the authorities for a reduced sentence. Director Andrea Di Stefano, in his feature-film debut, creates a tense and at times, claustrophobic atmosphere that is periodically reminiscent of “The Godfather”, with Benicio Del Toro playing the Brando role and chewing up the scenery around him. It was refreshing to see Josh Hutcherson away from “The Hunger Games” movies and actually giving a good performance and working with a script that allowed him the opportunity to prove that he is a fine actor, when given the chance.
Available on iTunes December 16th: In theaters January 16th
For more info about James visit his website at www.irishfilmcritic.com