‘The Snitch Cartel’ (‘El Cartel de los Sapos’) Movie Review
Last week, I had the chance to attend a screening for Colombia’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the Academy Awards, The Snitch Cartel (‘El Cartel de los Sapos’). Based on the novel by Andres Lopez, the main character of the film aka the “snitch,” the film explores the drug wars and Cartels in Colombia during the 90’s.
As the movie starts we meet Martin Gonzalez nicknames “Fresita” (Manolo Cardona) who gets into drug trafficking business in the most dangerous drug cartel in Colombia “The North Valley Cartel.” We soon realize one of his primary motivation is making enough money to win the love of his childhood neighbor Sofia (Juana Acosta).
Along with his best friend Pepe Cadena (Diego Cadavid), who is the younger bother of one of the biggest drug lord, Don Oscar Cadena (Fernando Solórzano), they get deeper and deeper into the trafficking. But Martin soon realizes that he might have gotten too far in when a change in power and betrayal hit home.
The Snitch Cartel is a realistic examination of the drug wars that impacted Colombia in the 90’s and even if you’re unfamiliar with its history (I was), you’ll still find yourself captivated by the film. Its focus on realism makes it compelling to watch and knowing that this isn’t another fictitious drug movie but instead a film based on real events is almost chilling. Actually, it made me realize how accurate a lot of other drug movies are to reality when I always thought some of it might be exaggerated. Yep, it’s that bad.
The love story between Martin and Sofia does have a few cliche moments, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that instead of falling into the stereotypical “gangster girlfriend,” Sofia ends up taking another route, which was quite refreshing.
But what really brings The Snitch Cartel to the next level are the performances. Lead Manolo Cardona is definitely the shining star of the film and I hope we’ll get to see him in more films in the US soon because he really is fantastic. And as I mentioned he’s not the only one. From Juana Acosta, Diego Cadavid, Fernando Solórzano, Tom Sizemore, who stars as D.E.A Agent Sam Mathews, and the rest of the cast, they all contribute to bringing the film to life. In fact, I would probably run the other way if I met some of the actors portraying the Cartel guys, that’s how scary they are.
Even though the movie is called The Snitch Cartel, I should first warn you that the snitch part is only a small part of the movie and only really comes into play towards the end. If I hadn’t been continually looking forward to when the snitching was actually going to happen, I might have been able to focus more on the story and enjoyed the film even more. But please note that I said “even more” because I did enjoy the film and I just want to make sure you go in with the right expectations of what the story is.
I would definitely recommend The Snitch Cartel for anyone who enjoys crime dramas with drug-dealing themes. I always enjoy discovering foreign films and seeing their take on stories we have seen too many times in US movies and The Snitch Cartel is a welcome addition to my “library.”
You can watch the trailer for the film below along with more photos. However, please be aware that the trailer does give away quite a lot of the story, so if you do not want to be spoiled, I would skip it and just go watch the movie.