The latest documentary series from Netflix profiles five of the world’s most wanted criminals from across the globe. The first episode looks at Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia, the head of the Sinaloa cartel. Subsequent episodes look at Félicien Kabuga, the financer of the genocide in Rwanda; Samantha Lewthwaite, also know as the "White Widow"; Russia mob boss Semion Mogilevich; and Cosa Nostra's last godfather, Matteo Messina Denaro.
"El Mayo" is deemed a "mastermind" and has been on the run for over 20 years. The Mexican government lets him away with his activities as he has enacted vengeance swiftly and violently in the past. Félicien Kabuga is vicious, using his riches to arm the Hutu tribe with machetes, ammunition and more weapons to obliterate the minority Tutsi tribe. Authorities describe him as "cruel" and "perverse". Matteo Messina Denaro is a figure you'd see straight out of 'The Godfather' series. Yet with all this fascinating subject matter, 'World's Most Wanted' never has you hooked.
The criminals share in common that they're either working with authorities, or authorities fear them, which guarantees their protection. They're also ruthlessly violent, responsible for the deaths of many, and are still out in the world somewhere. The series highlights their brutality but each (approx.) 47 minute long episode lacks the feel of a deep dive into the offenders. It's baffling that episodes have the sense of being overly condensed and yet lacking in detail. You'd wonder how much information is being held back to protect the interviewees and because these figures have yet to have their day in court.
The series gets very repetitive. It's like we get it - they're (almost) all rich, violent murderers who do terrible, inhumane things. And that sounds awful but the truth of the matter is you end up detaching from it all. Its lack of material is so apparent from the reliance on testimony over actuality footage; the preference for general sweeping summaries over the analysis of individual incidents; and the editing lacks anything impressive. There's a tangible lack of data and there's nothing gripping due to the reliance on generalisations and sensationalism over specificity. The tone and suspense isn't there. It just feels like it's going through the motions.
One episode that might be of interest to Irish viewers anyway is the one depicting Samantha Lewthwaite, aka the "White Widow". Called the "mother of all terrorists" by media, she is the widow of the bomber responsible for the London 7/7 bomb attacks, though she feigned being naive of her husband's crimes. Lewthwaite was born in Northern Ireland, thus the incident was well documented here back in 2005. Aside from that point of interest (it's episode three, if you want to skip ahead), there's little to say that's remarkable about 'World's Most Wanted'. It seems the high standard set by Netflix in true crime documentaries such as 'Making a Murderer' and 'The Ted Bundy Tapes' among others, can't always be attained.
'World's Most Wanted' is streaming on Netflix now.