Escobar: Paradise Lost (2015)
Critic Consensus: Its focus drifts frustratingly away from the titular druglord, but Escobar: Paradise Lost remains a mildly diverting drama, thanks largely to Benicio del Toro's glowering performance.
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Critic Reviews for Escobar: Paradise Lost
Escobar: Paradise Lost, as promising as it often is, feels like two barely connected half-movies.
[Del Toro is] really very good here, as he almost always is, no matter the quality of the film around him. The rest of the movie? Not so much.
When you have the fortune of landing an actor like Del Toro, it's almost criminal to spend so much time watching the scales fall from an innocent's eyes when we could be watching a master actor convey quiet, sleepy-eyed, mumbling menace.
Nick might usurp most of the screen time, but it's Mr. Del Toro, face flickering from benevolent to vicious and body heaving with literal and symbolic weight, who seizes the film.
The highlight here is Benicio del Toro's tamped-down but precise performance as a man who has made himself into a god.
Audience Reviews for Escobar: Paradise Lost
It could have been a topnotch Escobar biopic especially with Benicio Del Toro's gripping performance. Maybe the addition of Josh Hutcherson's character and story was for the purpose of reaching a wider audience for the film. He was good but the character was unnecessary.
I quite enjoyed this movie even though it has no basis in actual fact and it doesn't use as much of Escobar's 'exploits' if you will in telling its story. They do include Escobar ordering the assassination of the Minister of Justice, who was going after him and his cartel, as sort of Nick's breaking point when he knows he has to get out of Colombia. And it's out of date too, since the film takes place from the late 80s to the early 90s and the Minister of Justice was assassinated in 1984. Minor details, I know, but still. With that said, however, I still did like how they mixed Nick in with Escobar's niece and how he starts to become closer and closer to Escobar. It's not like they did a great job at this, because it also wants to be a romance story about Maria and Nick's love for each other, while also trying to manage the fact that Maria's uncle is a drug kingpin responsible for who knows how many deaths. So the film has some tonal issues for sure. There's even a point where Maria just sort of disappears from the film. I honestly think that the movie would've been better without the romance aspects. I know this is how Nick ends up getting involved with Escobar, but I'm sure they could've found another way to have Nick meet him. Maybe Escobar doesn't kill the gang who had their dog attack nick, maybe Escobar pays them off to leave the kid alone and that's how they meet. It might not be believable, but at least it's something. And it's not even that I thought Josh Hutcherson and Claudia Traisac lacked chemistry, far from it, it's just that their romance never really feels like it's that important a part of the story. It gives Nick motivation to get out of Colombia, but his brother, his sister-in-law and his nephew were also with him in Colombia, so that should've been enough. I don't know, at least it's something that would've made the film a little more tonally consistent. Thankfully, though, the film moves at a fairly brisk pace, so while I may not have thought the romance subplot was that important, at the very least it didn't drag the movie down. The acting, of course, is excellent. Well, at least Benicio Del Toro is. I believe that Benicio, while being a hugely respected actor, is also fairly underrated in my opinion. This is a guy who doesn't have to scream or raise his voice in order for you to be scared of him. He has that presence, a quiet intensity that is, really, only rivaled by Michael Shannon. He's more subtle and understated that your typically great actor, like a Leonardo Di Caprio. Not saying that Leo can't do subtle and understated, it's just an example. When Benicio speaks, he has your attention, even if he's speaking softly. He has that kind of power over the camera, where your eyes are drawn to him no matter what he does. And I think that's where his strengths lie as an actor. So, yea, if there's any reason to watch this film, it's all because of Benicio Del Toro. Josh Hutcherson does a good job here, but it's obvious that he's not at Benicio's level. The film does get a little dramatic at the end, once it's revealed that Nick was supposed to be murdered after a mission he was sent on. I do like, however, how Nick wasn't really able to get close to Escobar after the betrayal was revealed. Escobar doesn't get his comeuppance at Nick's hands which would, obviously, be altering history in an completely unbelievable manner. Escobar hands himself over to the authorities and Nick is off finally being pushed to murder at the hands of Escobar's goons. I liked that. All in all, I thought this was a good movie. Nothing outstanding since it, sadly, didn't involve more Escobar's real-life exploits, but Benicio Del Toro's performance and the film, when it focuses more on the seedier aspects of the business and not the romance, manages to entertain on those fronts. It's tonal issues definitely do a lot to keep it from reaching greatness however. I'd still recommend it if you have Amazon Prime. Good movie right here.
Horrible and unnecessary movie. Not to mention the atrocious butchering attempt at faking the Colombian accent which is all around cringe-worthy - this (fictional) movie had no purpose or business being made.
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