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Feature: Wildlands: Ubisoft's other take on the war on drugs


There are moments in Wildlands, a documentary made as a kind of tie-in but not really for Ghost Recon: Wildlands, where you might find yourself laughing at the dark absurdity of it all. Rusty Young, the writer who serves as this documentary’s documentarian, deadpan describing getting his friend Thomas McFadden out of San Pedro Prison by bribing three judges; George Jung, an old man, talking about how he tried to explain the concept of supply and demand to Colombian cartel leaders; when Young suggests to Jhon Jairo ‘Popeye’ Velásquez, Pablo Escobar’s hitman, that it is perhaps suspicious that Popeye was absent for the shootout that killed Escobar. 

Popeye stares intensely for several seconds in response. Rusty stares back, proving he has incredible bladder fortitude.

The film is full of these moments, because the people involved in the drug trade, as undeniably sinister as some of them are, are still people. This is why George Jung is not only the man who introduced cocaine to the United States, but also an aging hippy sitting on a beach with a Corona, getting vestiges of lime caught on his lips, and why Pilar Angel, a drug smuggler-turned-informant, decided her own DEA moniker would be ‘The Princess’.

It’s an engaging film to watch. Young, as an interviewer, is a curious mix. His body language is open and friendly, often leaning towards the subject or mirroring their movements and language (and director Colin Offland has set up some of these shots beautifully to emphasise it), but his questions can become very direct, and when they do, it’s almost as much as a surprise to us as to the person he’s interviewing. Just like them, we’re drawn in, and when the interviews unearth some dark secrets we are unprepared.