How To Transform A Cliche Drug Cartels Action Movie

I will admit to being somewhat dorkily excited for Tony Scott’s upcoming Narco Sub, a movie about the battle between efforts by drug cartels to use primitive semi-submersibles to get cocaine into the United States and U.S. law enforcement agents’ effort to stop them, despite the fact that it seems inevitable that Denzel Washington will get cast as a badass DEA agent, that things will blow up rather flagrantly, and that it will probably be terrible. But even though Scott won’t actually take this path, the Narco Sub story is the kind of action movie that could be adapted to be unpredictable and challenging.

In real life, the hero of the fight (which honestly is a mix of action-packed and pretty goofy) against drug trafficking via home-made submarines is Sandra Brooks, the Navy’s Deputy Director of Intelligence and Security and Chief of Innovation and Technology, who started a program to go after “unconventional targets operating in the maritime environment.” As she said when she won a major award for public service in 2010, her first score was nicknamed Big Foot because her colleagues thought it was a myth — and they caught 9.2 tons of contraband along with the semi-sub. You could upset all kinds of movie conventions by making the Narco Sub hero a woman (and a lesbian — Brooks is gay, which shakes up the action-romance narrative nicely), and in the best tradition of Spooks, someone who figures things out from an office rather than parachuting in to a dumpy submarine to punch drug traffickers in the schnoz. They’ll never do it, of course. But I would watch the hell out of that movie, or anything else that acknowledges that there’s more than one way to beat the bad guys, and more than one kind of person capable of doing it.