The Legend of Cocaine Island is stranger than fiction

The Legend of Cocaine Island - Credit: Netflix
The Legend of Cocaine Island - Credit: Netflix /
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The Legend of Cocaine Island is a documentary that delivers this true story in a way befitting of its ridiculousness. A must watch for true crime fans.

Netflix’s The Legend of Cocaine Island is a wild ride, to say the least. Director Theo Love prepares you from the very beginning for what you’re about to see: off-the-wall characters, a story that sounds like it came from the greatest creative minds in Hollywood, and several twists and turns along the way. You aren’t sure what to expect at any point during this documentary and there is plenty of misdirection throughout to keep you guessing.

The Story

In case you are not familiar with the story, I’ll preface it as best as possible without spoiling anything.

Before the recession, a gentleman by the name of Rodney Hyden was running a successful construction company. He and his wife and daughter were living a great life, with a big house, a pool, boats, and luxury cars. They were living the dream. Then the recession hit and it hit them very hard. They ended up having to leave the home and move to a double-wide on a large plot of land out in the country. In this area, there was a gentleman who walked the road and would tell anyone willing to listen about the fortune he stumbled upon in Puerto Rico and had to bury.

Of course, it wasn’t gold or cash but cocaine that he found. However, it was over a million dollars worth and this caught the attention of Rodney. Eventually, a drug addict buddy of his son caught wind of the story and one thing led to another. Before you knew it, Rodney was planning a trip to Puerto Rico to see if he could locate the buried drugs to turn his life back around.

The approach and the characters

The best part of this documentary is how Theo allowed the people to be themselves. He was able to get testimony from most of the major players (though some obscured their appearances) and when I say that everyone was a character, I mean it. Rodney himself comes off as a smart man, but a naive dreamer at the same time. Then you have Andy. Some of the best moments in the documentary were moments where Theo decided not to edit places where Andy went off on a tangent or said something crazy.

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He says something along the lines of: “Rodney probably said I have a drug problem but I don’t. I use a lot of drugs, yes, but it’s not a problem.” He’s dead serious. Theo let him be himself here and this was true for all of the characters throughout the documentary. Even when Rodney’s wife is crying about how rich they were and how they now had to suffer in a double-wide, as if there weren’t people worse off than her, he let her have that moment. It truly made for riveting television.

The story and the characters in it are so ridiculous that at times you really have to remind yourself that this did happen. At different points in the story, the director adds titles to remind you that these situations and people are real because he’s aware of how crazy it sounds.

Overall

Overall I thought it was a great story, amazingly told, unpredictable (unless you read up on the story of course). The story has great flow and is told in a way that feels like you’re watching it happen. You’ll pull for them, you’ll be shocked by how some things play out, you’ll laugh, you’ll hold your breath. It really is a ride.

By the end, they leave you wondering if the story is over and this was done amazingly as well. No spoilers but when you finish you’ll have questions about which of the three options presented is the truth. As I watched the documentary I couldn’t help but imagine how amazing this would be as a movie. However, by the end, I realized that sometimes the real story is even better than a re-imagining could ever be. Enjoy this story for what it is.

The Legend of Cocaine Island is now streaming on Netflix. 

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