La Linea: Shadow of Narco review – a frantic look at a smuggling hotspot a place in the sun

September 9, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, TV Reviews
2.5

Summary

La Linea: Shadow of Narco‘s immediacy does it some favours, but it’s yet another entry in a terribly overcrowded field that does little to stand out.

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2.5

Summary

La Linea: Shadow of Narco‘s immediacy does it some favours, but it’s yet another entry in a terribly overcrowded field that does little to stand out.

If there’s one thing that Netflix probably doesn’t need more of, it’s docuseries’ about drugs. Nevertheless, though, today’s is La Linea: Shadow of Narco, two episodes of which were provided to press with a God-awful English dub by default — I suggest you turn that off — and a juicy attendant controversy just for good measure.

That controversy is related to the show’s setting and namesake, the Spanish beach town of La Linea, a nexus of smuggling, trafficking, and terrorism between Morocco and Gibraltar. Locals have, apparently, been up in arms about the series, which in their mind depicts the home of mostly honest and hardworking people as a den of debauchery and banditry. Which is, you know, fair enough.

But throughout the copious interviews and hours of recordings, which combine the testimony of local law enforcement and shadowy mercenaries as well as pretty compellingly frantic on-the-ground footage, La Linea: Shadow of Narco makes a strong case that, tourist trade be damned, this place has a long history of illicit activity that is baked in on a pretty systemic level. The police speak of the traffickers and the sophistication of their operations with a sort of reverence, and also an obvious frustration that they just don’t have the resources to properly fight back.

The civilian population is also given a voice, mostly to explain how La Linea is Spain’s most neglected town. Thirty percent of the unemployed have no secondary education; half have no primary education. They aren’t qualified for anything. There have been five police chiefs in three and a half years. There’s no stability, which is something that the traffickers take advantage of. News footage of the narco boats brazenly going about their business is striking for just how casual these criminals are. And why not? The allure of the narco lifestyle isn’t to be underestimated, as we’re told.

I’m just not sure how much fresh, genuine insight La Linea: Shadow of Narco really offers. I like the straight-to-the-point close-range footage, but the talking heads help to paint a picture we’ve ogled many times before, especially on Netflix. Fans of the genre and those particularly interested in the region will be well-served here; just don’t expect anything you haven’t seen before.


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