Cocaine Cowboys film review

Year: 2006

Billy Corben’s exuberant documentary Cocaine Cowboys not only refrains from the type of overly preachy commentary that we usually see in drug-related documentaries, but it almost comically recounts the bloodbath that was Miami’s cocaine heyday, while delivering more solid reporting and facts than most of its predecessors. Part of the nirvana of the film, comes from the musical score from Miami Vice TV veteran, Jan Hammer.

The story is told in part by former detectives and prosecutors but primarily from the perspective of the guys who profited from the trade: the murderers, drug dealers, and transporters who brag about the good-ole gangsta’ days. The sobering reality comes when the audience realizes that most of the kingpins of the day are now either behind bars, dead, or serving a stretch in the witness protection program, thanks to a free ticket from the U.S. gorernment. The storyline makes you laugh, but then scares the hell out of you, when you consider how much money was made and lethal crimes perpatrated in the once sleepy retirement community. History comes to life with vintage footage, police photos, and newspaper headline stills, while the criminals recall anecdotes, and mob mother Griselda Blanco emerges as a bloodthirsty crime lord who puts Tony Soprano to shame. This vigorous, energetic doc captures the appeal and allure of a business that thrived and continues to survive on cowboy, over-the-top action. Once you see it, you will never think of Miami Vice the same way again.

Review by editor Rene Carson, copyright

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