Similar to The Last King of Scotland, the tale of a legendary figure is told from the point of view of an innocent. In Paradise Lost, it’s a promising but also problematic decision.
The said innocent is played by human Lego Josh Hutcherson. His previous roles haven’t offered him much range to work with until this film and manage to pull it off. The movie’s saving grace is Benicio del Toro. He deftly balances creepiness with charm to portray the looming threat to Nico’s life.
The cinematography was able to capture the beauty of its quaint period detailed setting. The framing device clearly tells the audience that this dark tale is shown through Nico’s perspective.
However, as the story progresses, a question becomes evident – is this a movie about Escobar or a dumb Canadian? Worse, the movie doesn’t offer much either way.
The tedious introduction reveals nothing about its characters beyond the surface. We’re given glimpses of Escobar’s power but doesn’t explore the complexities of a man who has a twisted definition of family and faith. It can be argued that the script had to make a trade off because this is about Nico after all.
The movie switches gears to become a full-on thriller revolving around his survival. While it’s a tense and engaging sequence of events with a sense of urgency and dread in every turn, it’s hard to care for Nico and the rest of the characters who got thrown into the fray. The Canadian is one-dimensional and naive. His love story is predictable and cliched with a worried girlfriend and caricature goons.
In the end, it’s neither an interesting new perspective to Escobar or an engaging romantic thriller.
Escobar: Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost features a perfectly cast lead and gripping action, but it's crippled by a formulaic plot, underbaked narrative, and underwritten characters.