Before he was unceremoniously pushed out, George Jung was the man responsible for the lion's share of cocaine entering the United States from Columbia. Blow, based on the book Blow: How a Smalltown Boy Made $100 Million With the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All by Bruce Porter and adapted by David McKenna (Get Carter, Body Shots) and Nick Cassavetes (The Astronaut's Wife, Life) retraces Jung's steps, from new high school graduate stoner to rich drug kingpin. Johnny Depp, averse as ever to conventional roles, has the opportunity to play Jung over a forty year span, from his meteoric rise to pathetic fall. Through it all, the Jung character remains somewhat of a mystery. Instead of a cohesive whole, Blow plays more like small segments, each of which gives only small insight to Jung's life. Each glimpse into a period of his life lasts long enough only to move the story forward and get a sense of time.
Blow begins with George as a young man. His father Fred (Ray Liotta, Heartbreakers, Hannibal) and mother (Rachel Griffiths, Amy, Blow Dry) live modest lives, prompting George to vow to become rich. When he graduates from high school, George (Depp, The Astronaut's Wife, Sleepy Hollow) leaves his midwestern rural small town and heads to California. He begins making money by selling marijuana with Derek Foreal (Paul Reubens, Mystery Men, Doctor Doolittle). After doing a stint in prison for possession with intent to sell, George hooks up with his cellmate Diego Delgado (Jordi Molla, Second Skin, Volaverunt) and begins a much more lucrative career of importing cocaine. Now, he lives in an expensive mansion, married to Colombian trophy wife Mirtha (Penelope Cruz). They have a daughter, and it is George's love for his daughter and desire to be a father that eventually reforms him.
Still, George goes back to selling drugs at every opportunity. Partly because he does not know anything else, and is always looking for the quick and easy way out. Is Jung really a genius with idiotic tendencies or just an idiot who was incredibly lucky? It is never entirely clear. His character remains tight-lipped about many motivations, which fails to give any real insight into his business acumen. Blow gives no sense on how Jung was able to conquer the market for cocaine, other than being the right person at the right time. He does not have much charisma, so watching him for the length of the movie begins to get tiring. On the other hand, director Ted Demme (Life, Snitch) approaches Blow with a quick, and at times darkly lighthearted perspective on the cocaine trade in America. Because
Demme wants to include so much, the characters lose out. Blow is a movie that actors love, because they can delve into a character and play the same person over a long span of time, but Depp looks and acts the same until his character enters the late 1980s. Liotta and Griffiths (she cries like she does in every movie) age the best (worst). They look worse for wear, and as Blow progresses, their attitudes and demeanor towards George change drastically. Other actors like Cruz (All the Pretty Horses, Woman on Top) and Franka Potente (Run Lola Run, Anatomy) are in the movie for so little that they really don't have time to develop their characters. For Cruz, this is especially exasperating. Blow finally gives her a deeper role that that of her other English movies, but her limited screen time ruins this. If she continues to pick wishy-washy roles here, she may as well go back to Spain, where her movies were much better. Blow also has the unlucky timing of opening relatively shortly after Traffic. Although the aims of the two movies are vastly different, both have the common theme of focusing on the drug trade, and the latter is much better.
|Haro Rates It: Okay.|
|2 hours, Rated R for pervasive drug content and language, some violence and sexuality.|
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