Tuesday 14 March 2023

REVIEW: Cocaine Bear (2023) - Starring Keri Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Christian Convery, Alden Ehrenreich, Brooklynn Prince, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Margo Martindale, and Ray Liotta

Review by Jon Donnis
The story of Cocaine Bear is a true and unusual one. In 1985, a black bear in Georgia accidentally consumed over 70 pounds of cocaine that had been dropped from a drug smuggler's plane. The bear was found dead a few days later, and an autopsy revealed that it had high levels of cocaine in its system.

The bear's story began when a drug smuggler named Andrew Thornton died in a plane crash while transporting large quantities of cocaine. During the flight, some of the drug bags fell out of the plane and landed in the forest.

The incident inspired a number of pop culture references, including a song by country singer Sturgill Simpson and a movie, this movie!

The year is 1985, Andrew C. Thornton II (Matthew Rhys), a drug smuggler, accidentally drops a shipment of cocaine from his plane while attempting to parachute out with a drug-filled duffel bag. Sadly, he knocks himself unconscious on the doorframe, falling to his death. His body is discovered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and is identified by Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), a local detective, who suspects the cocaine is from St. Louis drug kingpin Syd White (the late great Ray Liotta). The rest of the shipment is missing.

Meanwhile, in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, an American black bear consumes some of the cocaine, becoming highly aggressive and attacking two hikers, Elsa (Hannah Hoekstra) and Olaf (Kristofer Hivju), ultimately killing Elsa.

Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince), a middle schooler in northeast Georgia, lives with her mother, nurse Sari (Keri Russell). One day, Dee Dee and her friend Henry (Christian Convery) skip school to paint a picture of the falls in the forest. While on the trail, they stumble upon a lost brick of cocaine, ingest some, and are then attacked by the bear. Sari, park ranger Liz (Margo Martindale), and wildlife activist Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) venture into the forest to search for the kids. They find Henry hiding in a tree, but the bear attacks, slashing Liz in the process and killing Peter, who was coated in cocaine. The bear ignores Henry, and Sari and Henry flee deeper into the forest. Liz sends for help.

The rest of the film is basically Sari searching for the kids, as well as Cocaine Bear attacking and killing people. The film is quite gory, but it is a horror comedy, so everything does get a bit silly at times.

At its heart, this is a monster movie, but instead of some supernatural monster, you have something that everyone is familiar with, that being a huge bear. Now put that bear on cocaine, and you have a crazed killer bear.

The film never takes itself too seriously, and Keri Russell is strong as the main lead. The two child actors are also convincing in their parts, and Ray Liotta as the St. Louis drug kingpin is perfect casting. The film is dedicated to him too, since it was one of the last he filmed before his sad death.

This is a fun film; you will probably only ever watch it once, but it is enjoyable. The visual effects of the bear are decent, if not up to the standards of Jurassic Park.

The Good
Fun and silly horror comedy. The bear is the real star. Strong perfomances all round. The 90 minute run time feels a little long for a film of this kind, I would have got it down to 80 minutes.

The Bad
The film gets a little repetitive, and we perhaps don't get enough of the bear.

It's a film about a bear on cocaine killing people, it delivers exactly what it tells you it will, and in a fun and gory way.

I score Cocaine Bear a solid 8/10

Out Now in selected cinemas and on digital at Apple TV - https://apple.co/405M9dR

You can also pre-order the home entertainment release at https://amzn.to/3l9yK5Z