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MCN Review: Narcos

Netflix delves into the Colombian drug wars of the 1980s in its new scripted series Narcos.

The 10-episode series stars Boyd Holbrook as DEA agent Steve Murphy, assigned by the U.S. government to help stop the flow of cocaine into the U.S. from Colombia, a trade spearheaded by drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura).

The series follows Escobar’s rise from smalltime smuggler to multi-millionaire drug lord, producing and smuggling cocaine into Miami. The chronicling of events — as narrated by Murphy, and seen mostly through his eyes — paints a chilling portrait of a low-key but methodical and murderous Escobar, who controlled politicians and police as part of his infamous drug operation.

Escobar’s reach and influence is made apparent early in an encounter with police not already on his payroll after he is stopped for smuggling electronics. Escobar chillingly discusses personal details about each officer’s family members, forcing the cops to capitulate.

Narcos creators Chris Brancato, Eric Newman and Carlo Bernard paint a grim yet entertaining view of the dark and bloody 1980s drug trade, weaving its fictional retelling of Escobar’s story with period news footage. The contrast effectively helps put into perspective Escobar’s dominance of the drug trade as well as the somewhat ineffective war against drugs both abroad and in the U.S., including an infamous speech from then President Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan, urging Americans to “Just say no.”

While Narcos doesn’t play as a documentary, it nevertheless provides a very detailed and often grizzly account of a time and a subject matter that still resonates with — and some may say still haunts — America today. Viewers will be fascinated with and entertained by the historical narrative Narcos provides throughout its 10-episode run.