Netflix just keeps the trailers coming. Earlier this week, we were treated to a preview of their first Spanish-language original series, Club de Cuervos, and now we’ve finally been blessed with a sneak peek of the semi-fictional world of its highly anticipated international crime drama Narcos.
A few weeks back, the groundbreaking digital content network released a teaser featuring little more than a map of South America carved out of cocaine. Now we can get a much better feeling of Brazilian master director José Padilha and writer Chris Brancato’s high-stakes narco thriller, and well, it looks a lot like Martin Scorcese’s Goodfellas.
Which is totally fine. If one film nailed the lavish, kinetic, and paranoid world of 80s cocaine trafficking, it was Goodfellas, and the Narcos trailer seems to be paying self-conscious homage to Scorcese’s eminently stylish gangster masterpiece. There’s the sweeping camera movements, the attitudinous rock soundtrack, the shoulder pads, and most tellingly, the emblematic voiceover narration. The big difference here is that Narcos seems to be told from the point of view of real-life Drug Enforcement Administration agents Steve Murphy and Javier Peña, rather than the traffickers themselves. Though with Padilha’s predilection for multiple, intersecting storylines, the trailer may be a bit misleading in that respect.
Things start off with a glimpse into the calculated brutality of the Medellín Cartel’s infamous leader, Pablo Escobar (played by Brazilian superstar Wagner Moura), who gives Colombian soldiers who requisition his goods a cool-headed but chilling choice between, “plata o plomo” (translated as “silver or lead.”) Spanish-speaking audiences won’t be in the least bit convinced by Moura’s Portuñol take on a Colombian accent, but he sure as heck looks the part. Fan favorite Luis Guzmán also makes a fleeting appearance about halfway through the trailer as Colombian capo José Rodríguez Gacha, looking as fly as we’ve seen him since 1997’s Boogie Nights.
Then there are the helicopters, shipping containers, giant automatic weapons, and all sorts of big-budget elements that Padilha was probably more than happy to play around with. If you were expecting this to be just another cops and robbers narco-exploitation piece, Brancato and Padilha’s mission statement comes in the form of a brief voiceover at about 1:30: “In war, good and bad are relative concepts. This was my war.”
If Narcos’ intention is to explore moral ambiguity rather than the traditional good guy/bad guy dichotomy, they sure picked the right director for the job.
Narcos premieres on Netflix on August 28, 2015.