The Legend of Cocaine Island relies on style over substance, sugar coating over the cracks to a relatively normal story.
The question you have to ask yourself when embarking on a documentary like The Legend of Cocaine Island is will your knowledge bank be more satisfied after watching it? And that’s what I pondered, at least in the first twenty minutes. The Netflix documentary platforms a man who has lost everything, with the chance of a “once in a lifetime opportunity”. I sincerely believe that we will all have that one moment where we have the opportunity to sell our soul for a perceived better life, and for Rodney Hyden, it was just that.
With stylistic and original techniques, The Legend of Cocaine Island explains how Rodney becomes fascinated by a story regarding a duffel bag of cocaine buried in the Caribbean, and how his desire to live his past-life before the 2007 recession persuades him to attach himself to a band of misfits to try and retrieve it. The real-life event pertains to an actual treasure hunt led by a quickly out-of-breath man trying to please his out-of-touch wife.
Going back to the original question – is this story worth caring for? Well, up until the point where Rodney’s wife gets all teary about how they lost everything after the recession and that her new house is the same size of the three garages at the side of her old one. I find it difficult to feel any sympathy for people who become emotional over their normal lives. Currently, I’m sitting in a weathered area in a terraced two-bedroom house, and I suspect I’ll live in this kind of housing for the rest of my life. I could not give a s**t about how rich people used to be rich. And if you are enticed by the potential of making millions from hidden cocaine, then frankly you are an idiot, regardless of the “golden opportunity”.
The Legend of Cocaine Island is about a fool chasing a fool’s dream, and no matter how stylised the documentary is by using deviant interviewing techniques, the story itself is not unprecedented. The main strength of the Netflix documentary is how it dramatizes the scenes based on real-life events, with Rodney playing Rodney, giving the director more authenticity to the story. Ever burnt a cake and put the icing on top to make it taste good? That’s precisely what we’ve got here; a standard story about a naive dude making the wrong steps in life.