Ben Hibburd’s review published on Letterboxd :
Blow is directed by Ted Demme and stars Johnny Depp as real life drug smuggler George Jung, who was part of the Medellin cartel run by Pablo Escobar that at one point had an 85% market share of all cocaine imported into America in the late 70s early 80s. Blow is a fairly inspired biopic with some flashy moments sprinkled throughout. Watching this film I kept asking myself what was the film trying to achieve? Because I struggled to find anything that retained my interest in the film. That’s not too say this is a flat out bad film, which it isn’t, it’s just with a plethora of quality crime biopics such-as: Goodfellas, Donnie Brasco, Serpico, Scarface etc this film falls by the wayside.
The film is technically well constructed and the soundtrack was a joy. The film also contains terrific performances across the board. Johnny Depp gives one of his better performances, he does a terrific job of making a thoroughly unlikable character somewhat sympathetic and relatable. The star of the show for me was Jordi Mollà, Jung’s unhinged business partner Diego Delgado. During a short stint in prison Jung and Delgado team together alongside Escobar to flood the American market with cocaine. Also in this time Jung meets and marries Mirtha (Penelope Cruz). Demme does a good job of juxtaposing their relationship against Jung’s own parents which adds a nice dynamic to the film.
The film is rounded out by excellent supporting performances from Ray Liotta, Rachel Griffiths and Paul Reubens. The entire cast give a committed performance. It’s just a shame that for such an interesting time in history the screenplay was so dull. You almost get a sense that the creators were trying to make their own version of Goodfellas rather than expressing their own vision, and in doing so the film came off as being disingenuous.
Ted Demme does not have the same kinetic editing or free-flowing, stylish camera movements that Martin Scorsese does. Which he then tries to over-compensate with by using a high-energy soundtrack and voice-over character exposition. The problem is this only works when the pacing is rapid and the audience needs quick-fire exposition to understand what’s happening. The pacing in this film is lethargic and the voice-over became increasingly tedious.
In the end Blow is a disappointing film, it had so much potential that wasn’t fully realised. There are fun moments to be found in the film, and the engaging performances more than make up for a dull script. The biggest issue with Blow is that it’s a film that is more interested in following the footsteps of past genre classics, rather than carving out its own path.