CRIME CULTURE: It’s the latest instalment in the increasingly popular Narcos series from Netflix. This time the action switches to the ‘greenfields’ of Mexico in the 1980s as Sinaloa’s Guadalajara Cartel go from wide-eyed cannabis innovators to cynical cocaine couriers for the Colombians. As the largely useless war on drugs continues today to no avail our publisher, Serkan Ozturk, binge watches all ten episodes to give you this verdict.
This is perhaps the best of Netflix’s Narcos series so far for many reasons, but there are still a few things that let it down.
The female characters are still pretty peripherary to the action. They’re mostly there to be looked at and fucked. There’s attempts to rectify this a little with a female drug doyenne (played by Teresa Ruiz) acting as sort of a cipher for female empowerment. But it’s all fairly superficial.
What’s great about the series is its freewheeling storytelling.
Diego Luna plays the story’s central character: Ángel Félix Gallardo, the leader of the Guadalajara Cartel and founder of the modern Mexican drug trade. Rather than a psychopathic murderer, Luna plays Gallardo like a politician. Sometimes, there’s little difference.
Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, recently in the headlines for being found guilty in the United States for drugs trafficking, appears sporadically as a willing henchman for Gallardo’s crew.
Michael Pena as the tragically eager DEA agent, Kiki Camarena, is solid. His role though is largely consigned to pissing off his stuck-in-the-mud or corrupt colleagues and other authority figures.
WATCH THE TRAILER BELOW
The two cult figures from the show will undoubtedly be two of Gallardo’s drug king pins.
The mustachioed Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, known as Don Neto to his friends, is as much of a hoot as a drug dealing, murdering gangster can be. Joaquín Cosío puts in a memorable performance.
Then there’s his younger friendly offsider and sometimes nemesis, Rafael Quintero (a gloriously over-the-top Tenoch Huerata).
‘Rafa’ has a God complex because he cultivated the best marijuana in the world at a point in time. Trouble brews though when coke begins to prove more lucrative.
Both Don Neto and Rafa succumb to their excesses. Cocaine. Cocaine. Some marijuana. Lots of sex. More cocaine. It doesn’t end superbly for either of them. But they go out on a high.
This writer’s brother said the pair reminded him of the gangsters from old Turkish films from the 1970s. Melodramatic. And over the top. But great nevertheless.
A recurring motif throughout the show is a belief that life would be simpler for everybody if their business was just cannabis, and not cocaine. That’s for sure. We agree.
With Netflix renewing Narcos – Mexico for at least a second series, viewers can soon expect to see the rise of ‘El Chapo’ from a chubby, slightly dimwitted bit player to the world’s most powerful drug lord.