Cocaine Cowboys

"Bad"

Cocaine Cowboys Review


It's just possible that, some day, America's Most Wanted will make itself a feature-length episode on some larger, multi-criminal subject and release it in theaters. However unlikely and unappetizing that scenario is, it would still end up being vastly more interesting than Billy Corben's documentary Cocaine Cowboys. Although the raw material is here for fascinating viewing -- following, as it does, Miami's epochal shift during the 1980s from sleepy southern burg into ultra-violent shooting gallery for drug cartels -- Corben manages to turn it all into tone-deaf mush.

The story of how the Uzi-wielding cocaine cowboys took Miami by storm obviously has plenty of traction -- how else to explain the strange popularity of the ludicrous Scarface or plasticine Miami Vice? -- but the fictional representations of the era have become so iconic and ingrained in people's minds that it's possible nobody's interested in the real story. In other words: among the real-life enactors of the Miami drug wars, as captured by Corben's camera at stultifying length here, are no Tony Montanas, not a one.

Eschewing the authorial voice, Corben opts instead for the montage effect, burying the viewers under an avalanche of TV news footage from the era, detailing the horrific public shootouts (including one involving machine guns at a crowded mall) which erupted out of nowhere at the time. The effect is not revelatory so much as it is enervating: After a time a good part of the film blurs into one long and grainy sequence of body bags and seized contraband.

Greater dramatic potential is hinted at in the interviews the filmmakers conducted with some of the Miami big-timers; unfortunately, while the access is impressive, the subjects are allowed to ramble at self-congratulatory length, shedding little light on the bigger picture. More skilled interviewers or at least a more competent editing scheme could have teased more gripping material out of the likes of Mafioso smuggler Jon Roberts and the dead-eyed Chicago gunsel Jorge "Rivi" Ayala, but such is sadly not the case. The filmmakers were so enamored of the flash and drama of their subject (going so far as to bring in Miami Vice theme-composer Jan Hammer to contribute a horrendously synthetic score) that they never bothered to dig beneath the surface of what was a cultural shift along the lines of that which, several decades prior, had changed Chicago from a stolid industrial capital into a gangsters' shooting gallery. What was needed was the Frontline approach; what is provided, sadly, is Brian de Palma Lite.

Aka City Made of Snow.



Cocaine Cowboys

Facts and Figures

Run time: 118 mins

In Theaters: Friday 23rd November 2007

Box Office Worldwide: $163 thousand

Distributed by: Magnolia Pictures

Production compaines: Rakontur, Magnolia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Fresh: 34 Rotten: 15

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Billy Corben

Producer: Alfred Spellman, Billy Corben, David Cypkin, Bruno del Granado

Starring: Jon Roberts as Himself, Jorge Ayala as Himself, Mickey Munday as Himself, Toni Mooney as Herself, Nelson Andreu as Himself, Al Sunshine as Himself

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Advertisement
Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

The Light Between Oceans Movie Review

The Light Between Oceans Movie Review

With a sweeping, picturesque setting and emotive performances, this dramatic epic will appeal to moviegoers...

The Accountant Movie Review

The Accountant Movie Review

While this slick dramatic thriller plays with some intriguing ideas and themes, it never actually...

Train to Busan Movie Review

Train to Busan Movie Review

Leave it to the Koreans to reinvent the zombie horror movie and put a high-speed...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.