Movie Review

Benicio Del Toro steals the show as drug lord Pablo Escobar

Benicio Del Toro is a fictionalised version of the notorious real-life Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in Paradise Lost.
Benicio Del Toro is a fictionalised version of the notorious real-life Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in Paradise Lost.PHOTO: SHAW

REVIEW / DRAMA THRILLER

PARADISE LOST (PG13)

120 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3/5 stars

THE STORY: Canadian tourist Nick (Josh Hutcherson) falls in love with local girl Maria (Claudia Traisac), the beautiful niece of popular politician Pablo Escobar (Benicio Del Toro). It all seems like paradise until he realises that the shady Escobar is secretly a drug lord.


If there is any reason to watch this movie, it is to see the excellent Benicio Del Toro in all his menacing glory.

As a fictionalised version of the notorious real-life Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, his portrayal is truly terrifying.

The character is as vicious as he is completely unpredictable.

He could be splashing about in the pool with his kids while making plans to murder someone else at the same time and given how unforgiving he is, even his most trusted subjects are never safe from harm.

Del Toro glowers and sniggers with the right amount of intensity to make his character captivating - human, even - no matter how atrociously he behaves.

So good is he here that you often forget Escobar is only a supporting character in the film.

He steals all the limelight from leading man Josh Hutcherson, who turns in an insipid performance as innocent Canadian tourist Nick.

Nick setting up camp in Colombia and his unconvincing romance with Escobar's beloved niece Maria takes up a good first half of the movie - it is all very dull. But as soon as he lands himself in hot water by the second act, the film turns into a gripping action film,

Had the movie been a straight thriller, it could have great commercial potential, given the competent action direction that first-time writer-director Andrea Di Stefano displays here.

It was a mistake to try to elevate the project by weaving in superficial discussions about foreigners making holiday homes in Third World countries.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2015, with the headline 'Del Toro the evil drug lord steals the show'. Print Edition | Subscribe