The Two Escobars

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The Two Escobars

 

One was the charismatic captain of Colombia's national soccer team. The other was a cocaine baron who ruled a vast criminal empire with peerless brutality. The "gentleman of the field," Andrs Escobar, and the "world's greatest outlaw," Pablo Escobar, were unrelated, though they were linked by causes and effects. Pablo, a major soccer enthusiast, funneled drug profits to build an infrastructure around the team; Andrs used the club's victories to fix Colombia's tainted-by-violence reputation overseas. And though Pablo was killed in 1993, the gangster fostered an underworld culture that was responsible for Andrs's murder after his mishap cost the team the 1994 World Cup.

This is chewy stuff for an in-depth, Errol Morris--ish documentary---so why do we simply get a great-man-of-sports portrait halfheartedly grafted onto an A&E biography? It's as if directors Jeff and Michael Zimbalist recognized that these South American icons shared a surname and worked backward from there; though connections are pointed out, merely flipping between former Pablo associates attesting to crimes and halftime-bumper segments does not a 360-degree study make. Even the admittedly thrilling gameplay footage and time-capsule news reports are couched in contexts that seem crudely sketched out. This is simply pop sociology, putting too much emphasis on the first word and displaying too facile an understanding of the second one.

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By: David Fear

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