Escobar: Paradise Lost
Reviewed by: Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer for Shockya.
Grade: B
Director: Andrea Di Stefano
Screenwriter:  Andrea Di Stefano
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hutcherson, Claudia Traisac, Brady Corbet, Carlos Bardem, Ana Girardot
Release Date: June 26, 2015

When young surfer Nick (Josh Hutcherson) and his brother Dylan (Brady Corbet) arrive in Colombia and settle for sun and surf on the beach, one gets the impression that the two Canadians found paradise. To top all this Nick meets and falls in love with Maria (Claudia Traisac). Maria works for her uncle Pablo (Benicio del Toro) and is full of admiration for the guy. The entire family, if not the whole town, adores Pablo and regards him as a savior, a Robin Hood who donates money to the poor.

Maria’s uncle is Pablo Escobar, the wealthiest criminal in history, with an estimated net-worth of $30 billion. When Nick inquires about the nature of Pablo’s profession Maria tells him that her uncle is in the “export business of Colombia’s national product: cocaine.” It takes time for Rick to absorb this, but he is way over his head in the “business”. He wants to leave Colombia with Maria and his brother, but Pablo “advises” against such action.

This story could have been scripted as a real cinematic thriller but director and screenwriter Andrea Di Stefano chose a different genre. In Escobar: Paradise Lost he focuses on Pablo, the family man, a Godfather of sorts, the adored uncle and beloved husband and father who serenades his wife with a mini orchestra and splashes with his children in the pool.

Di Stefano’s choice of time frame seems questionable since the plot alternates between 1991 and an earlier period at a confusing manner.

Benicio del Toro delivers a charming performance as Escobar, a sneaky guy who loves his son-in-law but will not hesitate to order his elimination. Josh Hutcherson presents Nick in an opaque way, which may be a directorial misjudgment. We know little about Nick, his past or his plans for the future. Claudia Traisac plays Maria as a young woman, who adores her uncle with emotions alternating between smiles and sobs. Brady Corbet puts some meat and bones on Dylan’s character, the only guy with common sense and realization of the upcoming danger that awaits the brothers.

The film was shot in beautiful locations of Bocas del Toro and Chiriqui, Panama, by director of photography Louis Sansans. This deadly paradise never looked more inviting.

Rated R. 113 minutes.  © Tami Smith, Guest Reviewer
Story: B+
Acting: B
Technical: B+
Overall: B


By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *