It’s Kill Or Be Killed
Greed is a Deadly Sin
Bullet Against Bullet
I’m A Law-Abiding Citizen
Split across four globe-trotting episodes, Narcoworld: Dope Stories is an interesting but theatrical documentary series, one that sheds light on the drug scene but does so in a way that feels very exaggerated and over the top. With plenty of fly-on-the-wall camera crews and face to face interviews, Narcoworld blends the educational with the sensational, through a mix of slow motion cameras and tense, orchestral scores. The result is something that unintentionally feels more staged than it perhaps should be, despite some enjoyable segments dotted throughout.
Each of the four episodes clock in at around 40 minutes or so and cover a different country and drug. From smuggled hash transported through Europe through to the dangerous Mexico/US smuggling operation for dope, Narcoworld does well to keep things unique and avoids ever falling into stagnation. There’s never a dull moment here and if you’ve ever seen a show like Border Patrol or Cops, Narcoworld feels a little similar, especially in terms of stylistic cues and narration. Where the show comes undone however is in the delivery of the actual content, which loses a distinct voice with an uneven split focus between the police and dealers.
The first episode spends most of its time following the drug dealers around as they make it through the border to the US, with limited screen-time given to the police. Even worse, this episode ends with a celebratory pat on the back for the drug dealers, advising us that the police aren’t the only winners as we close out with a montage of our gang. By comparison, the MDMA episode to close the series out features the police for a grand total of around 10 minutes. The result is something that feels very skewed toward taking the dealer’s side and whether intentional or not, this does give the series an uneven kilter.
While I’m actually an advocator for legalizing some of these drugs, Narcoworld: Dope Stories is not the right way to go in terms of reinforcing that message. The intense focus on the dealers and the drugs, especially the celebratory look at the way these men and women evade the police, feels a little ill-conceived and when you compare it to other shows that have managed to balance this message out more effectively, Narcoworld pales by comparison.
The soundtrack features a weird blend of hip hop, uplifting orchestral chimes and pop rock too, in a medley of different influences. The result is something that only further reinforces the muddled tonal feel of this one that can’t quite decide what sort of documentary series it wants to be. Having said that, the different informative bites of text that show up on-screen is a welcome inclusion, as are the various maps that show the perceived route these dealers take in smuggling their drugs around.
Narcoworld: Dope Stories offers nothing new in the world of reality documentaries and even if you’re a fan of drug-related series of this nature, there are far better options in the genre worth watch. While this isn’t a bad series per-se, Narcoworld offers little in the way of new or original content either, failing to stand out in a meaningful way.
Verdict - 5/10