What’s with Hollywood’s sudden obsession with Pablo Escobar? Coming up in 2015 alone we’ve got a Pablo Escobar film starring Benicio del Toro, a Pablo Escobar film starring John Leguizamo, and a Pablo Escobar series on Netflix starring Wagner Moura. With all this fanfare, you would think the guy died yesterday, and not over two decades ago. Add to that the fact that Colombia is on the verge of reaching an historic peace agreement, and that the bulk of narco activity has actually moved northward to Mexico, and you get a big old, “WTF Hollywood?”
And now, to make the whole thing more inexplicably absurd, we’re getting — that’s right — yet another Pablo Escobar film. This one is entitled The Infiltrator, and will star Bryan Cranston alongside Bay Area-bred Peruano-Americano, Benjamin Bratt. Taking a tip from the Benicio del Toro project Escobar: Paradise Lost, which premiered at last year’s Telluride Film Festival, The Infiltrator will feature a white, American lead who finds himself dangerously close to the murderous, mustachioed Latin criminal. This is presumably to avoid putting white Americans in the uncomfortable position of having to identify with a brown person, or at least acknowledge that they are three-dimensional human beings. But we’re sure Bratt’s character will be goodhearted and loyal to a fault.
Based on the autobiography of Robert Mazur, Cranston will play an undercover DEA agent who infiltrates the narco money laundering schemes of the massive Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) with the help of his trusty inside man at Escobar’s cartel, Roberto Alcanio (played by Bratt.) The true events essentially brought down the world’s seventh biggest bank in the late 1980s and led to the demise of the Medellín Cartel after a staged wedding brought together Mazur’s contacts from both the BCCI and Medellín. I wonder what Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” has to say about all that?
As for Escobar fever, either Hollywood is about 22 years behind the times or some focus group got executive’s mouths salivating over at the major studios. Either way, we’ll have to wait and see if audiences still care about an image of Colombia that is less and less relevant to the 21st century.