As his first thriller film, Banks quite chose the story with “Cocaine Bear.” In fact, the bear is a very small part of a complicated story about a drug smuggling ring centered around Thornton, a man who left a career as a drug addict and a lawyer to steal weapons and smuggle drugs. Thornton came from a wealthy family and had a privileged upbringing, and he was clearly used to getting away with things. He used everything he learned as a paratrooper in the Army, a police officer and then a lawyer to perfect his drug business. Thornton even had his own plane, a Cessna 404, which he used to smuggle cocaine from Columbia.
In September 1985, Thornton and his partner overloaded the plane with packages of cocaine to fly from Columbia to the United States. The plane was too heavy to handle the load, so to save the operation, they dropped some packages of cocaine while flying over forests in Georgia – which the innocent bear later found – before jumping out of the plane with a parachute. Unfortunately, Thornton’s parachute could not open, leading him to fall to his death in a man’s driveway. When he was found, he was reportedly carrying 77 bags of cocaine, heavily armed and wearing a bulletproof vest. Oh, and to top it all off, he had Gucci loafers (Lexington Herald editor).
While the true story of “Cocaine Bear” is exciting enough on its own, the new film is likely to amplify the plot and add a little more drama to the story. So far, the only description released about the project is that it will be a “character-driven thriller inspired by true events that took place in Kentucky in 1985” (Rolling stones).