Escobar: Paradise Lost
The “Paradise Lost” is a surfing spot near Medellin, Columbia. The Escobar reference is to the Columbian drug lord, Pablo Escobar. The years: 1983 and 1991. A young Canadian named Nick (Josh Hutcherson) and his brother, Dylan (Brady Corbet), travel to Columbia to run a surf camp. Nick becomes infatuated with Maria (Claudia Traisac) who is opening a medical clinic for the poor. The clinic is funded by her uncle, Pablo Escobar (Benicio Del Toro) who had also entered politics in a big way and at one point became an elected Columbian senator. In early scenes you see Escobar interacting with his extended family and one wonders whether the storyline is going to present this infamous drug lord any differently than his media image. Andrea Di Stefano, authored and directed the fictional script and Del Toro gives a superb performance.
Unfortunately, part of the potential suspense is lost by opening the film in 1991 and then cutting to flashbacks to 1983. Nick as played by Hutcherson is also an issue. Why is Maria attracted to him? We’re given no idea why Escobar takes Nick under his wing, while Maria is a very favored niece. Dylan, the brother, is more complex a character but he virtually vanishes from the film once Maria and Nick begin living at the Escobar compound. Hutcherson has some strong scenes towards the end of this 120 minute film, which leaves you wondering where this guy was earlier when he could have listened to his brother’s warning. The film is in English and Spanish. While there is an undertone of violence, there is no on screen violence during the first two-thirds of the movie. The film kept me involved, but Nick was just not a believable character. If, like me, you are a fan of Benicio Del Toro, you won’t be disappointed. Del Toro’s performance is the primary reason for seeing this movie.