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Cocaine Cowboys - Review

Cocaine Cowboys

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

COCAINE Cowboys is a documentary that’s capable of appealing to anyone who has watched and enjoyed Scarface or Miami Vice, or even turned on the games console for a spot of Grand Theft Auto.

The film charts the cocaine wars that took place in Miami during the 1980s following the emergence of the Colombian drug barons and their violent but profitable reign.

It reveals how the cocaine industry rivalled the tourism industry at that time as the biggest industry in the state of Florida and includes interviews with some of the principal players involved.

Yet for all its power to enthrall, Billy Corben’s film sometimes feels more celebratory than sobering – often glorifying the antics of the dealers and traffickers to a worrying degree.

The film is split into three distinct acts chronicling the smuggling, the money and then the murder.

The smugglers include Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday whose interviews reveal two men that had little idea of what they were getting into until it was too late. Some of their stories have to be heard to be believed, particularly those concerning their brushes with the law.

But the main interest is reserved for the era’s most notorious crime figures – Jorge “Rivi” Ayala, who is interviewed at length from his prison, and godmother Griselda Blanco. Most of what Jorge has to say is truly terrifying, yet relayed with the carefree abandon of a man who has clearly yet to repent.

Corben keeps things moving at a brisk pace with some snappy editing and well-placed archive footage, tapping into the frenetic vibe of shows like Miami Vice and movies like Scarface.

But at a little under two hours in length, the film does eventually become a lengthy ride.

And the final question remains – is it too early to start celebrating such a violent chapter in history even if Miami is the new Chicago, according to its enthusiastic resident filmmaker.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 1hr 58mins