Narcos will make an addict out of you

Published: April 22, 2016

It is mainly written by Chris Brancato and directed by Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha, featuring Brazilian actor Wagner Moura playing the lead protagonist and donning the character of the head of the ill-famed Medellín Cartel, Pablo Escobar.

Narcos is an American crime thriller drama series. It is based on the real life character of the notorious and infamous Colombian cocaine baron, Pablo Escobar. The television drama series recounts and chronicles his ascension to power, influence and riches to eventually become the megalomaniac, cutthroat and despotic drug lord that he was. This makes the series relatively engrossing and thrilling at the same time.

Pablo Escobar.
Photo: IMDb

The first season of the series is predominately set during the 70s and 80s. It is mainly written by Chris Brancato and directed by Brazilian filmmaker José Padilha, featuring Brazilian actor Wagner Moura. Wagner Moura is seen playing the lead protagonist, the character of the head of the ill-famed Medellín Cartel, Pablo Escobar.

Medellín Cartel.
Photo: IMDb

Moura has managed to stay true to the character and the plot, as well as delivered a truly commendable performance. He put on extra weight to bear resemblance to the character he is portraying. He also moved to Escobar’s hometown of Medellín, Colombia, to become well-versed in the Spanish dialect, as well as get a better grasp on the cult following of Escobar.

Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar.
Photo: IMDb

Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar.
Photo: Screenshot

Supporting cast members who deserve a special mention are the US DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) officers Steve Murphy and his partner Javier Peña (a Mexican DEA agent), played by Boyd Holbrook and Pedro Pascal. Murphy provides a first-hand account of the dark world of illegal Colombian drug trade and its deadly cartels with a hegemony which is second to none.

Pedro Pascal playing Javier Peña, a Mexican DEA agent and his partner Steve Murphy, a US DEA officer played by Boyd Holbrook.
Photo: Screenshot

Pedro Pascal playing Javier Peña, a Mexican DEA agent.
Photo: Screenshot

This show is intended for mature audiences since it contains plenty of violence, sex and explicit language. It is a hauntingly accurate portrayal of Narcos based activities, which were at its peak during the 80s. Additionally, majority of the series are in Spanish with English subtitles – this adds an aura of authenticity that could not have been achieved with English accents bubbling with undertones of Spanish dialect.

Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar and Juan Pablo Raba as Gustavo Gaviria.
Photo: Screenshot

Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar.
Photo: Screenshot

The first 10 episodes of season one record the rise and subsequent descent of Pablo Escobar. Each episode meticulously exhibits what actually happened during Pablo’s reign as the “Cocaine King.” Some of the events, such as bribing politicians, assassinating judges and the attack on the Supreme Court of Colombia in 1985, are shown in great detail during the journey of the first season.

Some of these events appear implausible, as logic would dictate. However, a Google search will prove that it was all actually true and none other than Escobar, the shrewd tactician, was behind it.

Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar.
Photo: Screenshot

Narcos feels like a documentary at times, embedding archival footage of real news within the actual drama to make it more effective. This is done in order to make the audience realise the lawlessness Colombia witnessed because of Escobar’s reign of drug terror. Using dread and duress as his primary apparatus to conduct business, he became one of the richest individuals, not only in South America, but in the world. The rough estimates on his wealth was around $30 billion during his zenith of power. 

Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar.
Photo: IMDb

Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar.
Photo: Screenshot

Narcos depicts Escobar as a self-made man. Rising from abject poverty, he slowly becomes one of the most powerful men. If he was running a legitimate business, he would have been the equivalent of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, owing to his strategic thinking and business acumen. He built a behemoth drug empire while concurrently cultivating dreams of becoming the president of Colombia all by himself. Some of the episodes highlight his political ambitions in great detail.

Photo: Screenshot

Moreover, he wanted to rule the world and acquire everything he desired. He wanted Colombians to see him as Robin Hood and he did this by engaging in philanthropic activities for the Favela populace.

Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar and Juan Pablo Raba as Gustavo Gaviria.
Photo: Screenshot

Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar and Paulina Gaitan as his wife Tata Escobar.
Photo: Screenshot

Narcos presents Escobar as a multifaceted and complex individual. The series gives more than just a personal account of the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar; it reflects on the inner workings of his gang, his close confidants, wife, children, mistresses, arch-rivals and also the US and Colombian governments that were after him. This show is a larger than life biopic on the man who eluded the US government for a long period of time.

Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar, Paulina García as his mother Hermilda Gaviria and Paulina Gaitan as his wife Tata Escobar.
Photo: Screenshot

I would recommend this show because of its quality in content, its accurate representation, gripping portrayal of the blood-spattered cocaine history of Columbia and its eventual fallout on the streets of the US as well as other major metropolises around the globe. The second season of this show is expected to come out this year.

Let’s hope it’s as great as the first one.

Salman Junejo

Salman Junejo

The author is an agriculturist by profession and runs an agriculture company by the name of GRJ AGRO(www, He has a family background in politics and agriculture. He tweets @salmanjunejo (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • mustafa

    Narcos was brilliant, but they’ve filmed almost over 90% of his life in season 1. Season 2 would be to show his controversial death. They must’ve prolonged the show like the famous TV shows GOT & BB, which is only dependent upon fiction while this is a true storyRecommend

  • Kiran Bangash

    wow review is on point… i am a fan of this series and it is about time tribune shed some light on this excellent showRecommend

  • khan

    love this serious – I feel like I’m addicted to it!Recommend

  • Rana

    the writer just happened to see this thriller..too late to write.Recommend

  • Abrish Marri

    Can not wait for season 2 to come, after house of cards, i feel this is netflix best show if not better in all aspects specially dramaRecommend

  • Ramsha Aly Khan

    The movies made on Pablo Escobar do not even come close to this show. This only proves how solid and good this show is.Recommend

  • abc

    ….lots of suspense to come in the season 2 – can’t wait to watch the next series. It was fun watching the first season.Recommend

  • Palwsha Raheembux

    What a show what an actor Wagner Moura is, it’s a shame show of such caliber isn’t it in limelight like game of thrones.Recommend

  • Narcos Lover

    Great series but a lot of diversions from reality and made up incidents.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Agree………now am waiting for the 2nd Season.Recommend

  • Atika Rathore

    it is too much violent for me and the language should be english because it is an english show but despite that a good one…..good review as wellRecommend

  • Jemimah Shehbaz

    why do all good shows confine themselves to just 10 episodes… it should be atleast 15Recommend

  • Tabbasum Nawaz Haque

    Wish it could have highlighted how CIA paid off these cartels themselves for their self interestsRecommend

  • Sania Hameed

    Can not believe Colombia was so violent in 80s , when one think of Pakistan, the violence depicted in show even overshadows the violence in PakistanRecommend

  • Kashaf Khanzadi

    Show is underrated a lot, it should be right there among the top notch ones like GoT Breaking Bad and the likes….Recommend

  • Kanza Hareem

    one word… mind BLOWing, pun intended !!Recommend

  • Kaneez Fatima

    We all know Pablo dies, it would be interesting to see how they will show this, in the upcoming 2nd season or will they prolong itRecommend

  • Salman Junejo

    Do not assume things by yourself, I saw this series last year, when it came out. It’s a different matter, when I wanted to write a review about it. Do not confuse these two things.Recommend

  • Kanwal Ceeriyo

    Pablo was a criminal at heart, this show is but a glorification of greed,lust and money. But such an enticing show nonetheless.Recommend