Writer/director Joe Carnahan likes his stories to be bloody. Anyone who has seen 2002’s Narc or 2006’s Smokin’ Aces will verify this fact. It is this knowledge that makes Carnahan’s selection of his next project all the more enticing. Carnahan is poised to tell the story of “the world’s most famous fugitive”, Pablo Escobar.
How good would a drug dealer have to be for them to become one of the richest men in the world? This is the question readers of Forbes Magazine must have wondered in 1989 when Escobar was described as the seventh wealthiest man on the planet. Folks, that’s a lot of cocaine right there. And given this idea as a premise for a new novel, Mark Bowden of Black Hawk Down fame couldn’t resist exploring the wildly unlikely set of circumstances that led to such a financial feat. His biography of the man’s life produces more than its fair share of surprises as well.
Rather than exhibiting Pablo Escobar as some sort of Lex Luthor criminal super-genius, Bowden’s research reveals him to be…well, something of a dullard. And a pothead. Escobar did marijuana on a daily basis during his time as a felon, going all the way back to his days as a petty thief. Perhaps because of the hazy cloud of smoke in his head, Escobar was not much of a strategist. Instead, what separated him from his peers is that Escobar was a violent thug. On paper, this may not sound like much, but Escobar’s gratuitous exercises in pain would have made Cobra Kai proud. He believed mercy was for the weak and he had no problem performing and/or ordering gruesome murders whenever they served his purposes. This created an element of fear among his underlings as well as rival drug kingpins. The end result was that Escobar, abusive idiot that he was, grew to be “Public Enemy Number One in the world."
The reason for his ascension to the throne as The World’s Most Wanted was that he participated in a terrorist act. Long a renegade in his own country, Escobar scoffed at Colombia’s attempts to incarcerate him. He wanted his government as well as the rest of the world to know that he was above the law. One of actions attempting to prove this point went too far. Escobar ordered the bombings of Avianca Flight 203 and the DAS in Bogotá in 1989. The former incident was handled by Escobar’s henchman, Dandeny Muñoz Mosquera, but the deaths of the 107 people on board as well as three killed by falling debris included American civilians. Our government had viewed Escobar’s ascension as problematic in the past, but this act of murder was too much to ignore. The United States embarked upon a covert operation to bring down the empire of Pablo Escobar. And Mark Bowden’s book makes the argument that it was an American operative whose bullet assassinated Escobar.
Carnahan plans to adapt the book for theatrical release, and he has brought out the big guns in casting the title role. Academy Award winning actor Javier Bardem has been cast in the title role while the Dark Knight himself, Christian Bale portrays Major Steve Jacoby, the Delta Force commander in charge of hunting then killing Pablo. With Carnahan behinds the lens, this should prove to be Bale’s bloodiest movie since American Psycho…if not ever. (David Mumpower/BOP)