Directed by: Ted Demme
Written by: David McKenna & Nick Cassavetes
Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Franka Potente, Rachel Griffiths, Paul Reubens
The drug trade offers unimaginable riches but also the unending paranoia that life can be cut short at any minute. One cannot simply walk away, which the flawed protagonist of Blow figures out. A storyline, which becomes tiring with its repetitiveness but this film fails to offer anything remotely new.
Starting his career in the drug trade, George Jung (Johnny Depp) sold marijuana on the west coast but has been made aware of the lucrative opportunity to sell on the east coast. It kickstarts his journey towards moving cocaine into the United States for Pablo Escobar.
This story, like many others, sheds a light on people getting involved in a lifestyle, which promises wealth but only ends in despair. We’ve seen it time and time again because dealing with cartels and illegal materials instantly put you in business with people unafraid to get their hands dirty to retain their earnings. It’s not a lifestyle one can live and just walk away from. A rude awakening George learns, as he fails to live up to this parent’s expectations and damages every relationship he has in life.
His role in the cartel consisted of importing the cocaine of the Medellin cartel, spearheaded by Pablo Escobar. As anyone operating on the executive level of that particular group, money kept coming in at an uncontrollable volume. It only leads to trouble and shows George to be a broken boy even with having a gorgeous wife and a family only seeking for him to learn from his mistakes. The trajectory of George’s life ultimately becomes a tragedy of someone raised to believe in the unimportance of money, only to succumb to it in the end.
With the timeless message this film threads through its story, I found it to be uninteresting in any other aspect. Penélope Cruz portrays George’s wife, Mirtha and even her performance cannot liven up a story seen many times and not put together a piercing new way. It plays more into the drama of it all rather than adding something different. American Made played with the formula by injecting some humor and real character to the story, thanks to the script but also the performance by Tom Cruise. In Blow, Johnny Depp takes the spotlight and fails to give a performance worth the real story of George. I’ve never been the biggest fan of his work, but I figured he would bring his brand of lunacy to the role but it felt rather tame. It further makes sense he would take the character of Jack Sparrow two years later and essentially copy it for the next decade.
It makes for a film navigating in telling a story of what occurred, but its execution felt so incredibly dull, it left me wanting to watch something else the entire time. The chemistry between the actors felt dry, even with the disapproving Ray Liotta father figure. In the attempt to make the story of George some tragedy, it played it far too straight for the purely fantastical situation George found himself in. I could not recommend this to anyone, because there happens to be a treasure chest full of other films and series that told these stories in a far more interesting and engaging manner. The only thing this film had to offer happened to be its actors but Depp was bland and Cruz and Liotta were not given much to work with. Not enough development for any of them, thus leaving them as thin characters pieced together by some lackluster narration. A Scorsese-like attempt by the creators, but ultimately just another rushed and middling drug cartel movie.