Escobar: Paradise Lost (REVIEW)

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Remarkable performances enhance this film that is both gripping, thrilling, and surreal.

A young Canadian man finds himself in the world of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and doesn't realize it comes with a high price until it's too late, in the new film Escobar: Paradise Lost.

It's the late 1980's, and Nick Brady (Josh Hutcherson - The Hunger Games) and his brother Dylan (Brady Corbet) set up a surf shop on a beautiful beach in Colombia. But this scene is actually at the end of the film. Flash forward a few years, to 1991, and Dylan is, against his better judgement, working for Pablo Escobar (Benicio del Toro), the most notorious, and wealthiest, drug lord in the world. Dylan is where he is now because he has fallen in love with Escobar's niece Maria (a very good Claudia Traisac). They meet at the local clinic that Maria is running, and which was funded by her uncle Pablo. Dylan and Maria are smitten with each other, enough so that Maria invites Dylan to meet the rest of her family, at a lavish compound in the middle of nowhere. It's here that Pablo Escobar is celebrating his birthday, in a house that looks like it's worth millions, with many friends and relatives in attendance, all tended to by maids and servants. But Escobar is not just any man, he's a man whose respected, not only by his family, but by the communities in Colombia. He's given money to open up schools, clinics - anything that can help his fellow Colombians live better lives. But Escobar made his money by selling cocaine - via the Medellin Cartel - which was responsible for smuggling tons of cocaine each week into countries all over the world, and also responsible for hundreds and hundreds of murders.

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Dylan and Maria are getting closer and closer, and together they move into a room on Escobar's compound. Dylan has fallen in love with Maria, but he has also fallen into the Escobar family's way of life. Dylan sees what Escobar and his henchmen are up to, and slowly they integrate him into their world. But things come crashing down for the Escobar family after the country's Minister of Justice is killed, after he has just launched an investigation into Escobar and his dealings. Escobar and his family are now enemies of the state, he has to go on the run, kill anyone who might betray him, even his closest comrades, and hide his assets. When asked to kill a man who is helping him to hide some of Escobar's diamonds, Dylan must decide whether he is capable of doing this, or if he doesn't is he ready to live with the consequences that impact not only his and Maria's lives but also the life of his brother and his wife and their new baby?

'Escobar:Paradise Lost,' while not based on a true story, is a gripping and tense film that begins when an innocent romance starts to blossom but then slowly escalates into a thriller where Nick and Maria cannot escape the clutches of her powerful uncle. Hutcherson as Nick Brady is in fine form, he proves that he is able to carry a film that requires more than just fantasy and special effects; unknownTraisac as Maria is even better. She's the soul of the film, the woman that Nick loves and the woman that Escobar adores. Del Toro as Escobar is perfect. Del Toro looks sinister and mean, he's a dead ringer for Escobar. First time Director Andrea Di Stefano (she also wrote the film) takes us on a journey through the lush lands of Colombia to a dangerous and potential life-threatening situation as seen through the eyes of a young man whose been exposed to the very violent Escobar crime family.

ESCOBAR: PARADISE LOST will be released in UK cinemas and available on demand on 21st August, 2015

Available on Blu-ray and DVD from September 21st, 2015