Cocaine Bear

Cocaine Bear

An oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converge on a Georgia forest where a huge black bear goes on a murderous rampage after unintentionally ingesting cocaine.

When the trailer for ‘Cocaine Bear’ was released a few months ago it was a bit of an online sensation, with the blend of a loose true story and a drug fuelled bear on the rampage hitting the spot. The movie has now arrived, and the key question to answer is whether it is as fun as the trailer suggested it might be….with the answer from my perspective being a qualified ‘not bad, but not as good as I’d hoped’.

The movie does have its origins in a true story, which are rather clunkily dropped into the narrative via newsreel footage, centring on a drug smuggler who had to drop duffel bags full of cocaine out of his airplane because it was carrying too heavy a load. The smuggler died when his parachute didn’t open, but the cocaine was discovered by an American Black Bear in the wilds of Northern Georgia, who was later found dead next to 40 opened packets of cocaine. Thus, the story of the ‘Cocaine Bear’ was born, and indeed it had already passed into local legend prior to this movie with the bear’s body currently on display at a mall in Kentucky. Elizabeth Banks is in the directors chair, and she’s amassed an ensemble of familiar faces to play potential bear victims, including Margo Martindale, Keri Russell and the late Ray Liotta (this would be his final role). All of them have reason to be in the national park at the time, and all of them will find themselves in an encounter with the bear at one point or another.

At heart this is a B-movie, and as a B-movie it mostly delivers, with plenty of characters getting torn apart by the bear set to 80s pop classics. The dialogue is very sub-Coen Brothers and there’s probably a few too many characters for us to ever really care about any of them, with Ray Liotta’s ‘villain’ appearing too late in the day to have a meaningful impact. Banks has the good sense to keep the movie to approximately 90 minutes, which is the perfect runtime for this type of movie, and it does have some fun moments and performances, but overall you get the feeling that ‘Cocaine Bear‘ could have had a lot more fun with the premise than it ultimately has.

Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Elizabeth Banks

Starring: Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Christian Convery, Brooklynn Prince, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Margo Martindale, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Kristofer Hivju, Hannah Hoekstra and Ray Liotta

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