|Benicio Del Toro warns some baddies in, Sicario|
The drug cartel film seems to be making a resurgence as of late. Sure, Hollywood has been making those films for decades but, when mass graves of decapitated victims turn up so close to our borders, you know we gotta make some money off of it. When I say, "drug cartel film", most people instantly recall the film that made millions of dollars for poster and extra long t-shirt sellers worldwide; Scarface. I mean, who wouldn't admire a dirty, unredeemable, loudmouth, who couldn't snort his way to humanity through a laughable-sized mountain of cocaine on his table? Instead of going over the top, some films try to take a more realistic approach (Traffic, Miami Vice). Some films are also serious yet, they come off as more cinematic than practical (Savages, The Counselor). We have seen a decent mix of cartel related films too. Some are comedies (We're the Millers), action comedies (Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico), straight up action vehicles (The Last Stand), found footage dramas (End of Watch), and something that pretended to be what it wasn't (Sabotage). Not before and since 2000's Traffic, have many American films taken on the effects of the drug cartel infection. They usually just exploit the premise for some bloody carnage that will tantalize the average ticket buyer. There are some genuinely honest stories that can and should be told. If the studios are worried about losing money, just put Channing Tatum and Jennifer Lawrence in it. We'll fall for that every time.
In 2013, I wrote a review for the film Prisoners, directed by French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve. I could see then that the man knew how to make a film. Not by just directing, but also from his choices in casting and crew. His second big American film Sicario, has proven my instincts about him to be true. After seeing more than a few lame to disappointing films this year, Sicario reignites my passion for movie watching. This film is intriguing from beginning to end. Everything works, everything grabs, everything satisfies. The story itself, even when it has a couple of twists, remains believable as something that makes perfect sense in the insanity of it all. The musical score by Johann Johannson (Prisoners) adds to an already tense number of scenes, beginning with an ominous build up. The cinematography from camera veteran Roger Deakins (Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Skyfall, Prisoners), so beautifully captures the U.S./Mexican border and surrounding areas, that you almost forget about the subject matter and want to make a visit. Just don't lose your head. The action is also expertly planned and shot. Whether it's shown from the back of a moving pick up truck, on the ground at a border stand off, or through two different night vision perspectives, the action always grabs your attention. Every moment has you pinned to your seat.
Sicario does not waste time with any grandstanding or unnecessary subplots. Every actor involved says only what's needed when needed. Emily Blunt (Looper) plays the "in over her head" character with an innocence that the viewer can sympathize with. We know at times that she should just shut her mouth and listen but, she represents the hopeful side of people that think that some lines should never be crossed regardless of a positive outcome. Benicio Del Toro (Guardians of the Galaxy) in a very quiet role, makes the most waves by his actions and less by his words. An actor of his skill normally grabs you by his dialogue but, in this he's more effective as a mysterious tag along. Josh Brolin (Men in Black III) as an unadmitted CIA agent in flip flops, is great as the never flustered puppet master who's pulling all of the strings with a constant smirk on his face. Smaller but important characters played by Daniel Kaluuya (Kick-Ass 2), Victor Garber (Argo), Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice), Maximiliano Hernandez (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Julio Cedillo (Cowboys & Aliens), and Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, Hey! I didn't know that Shane drank Shock Tops! I always took him for a Budweiser kind of guy.), all get their moments to shine, especially Kaluuya. He's never too afraid to speak up and works well as Blunt's confidant and shoulder.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Sicario
The Good- The trip into Juarez, Shane don't like wet willies, night vision tunnel tension, and "This is the land of wolves now and you are not a wolf." is a great line to end a film on.
The Bad- I don't care how feared and powerful you are. If you are so cocky to think that only five armed guards are going to protect your mansion in the middle of nowhere, then maybe you do deserve to get blasted.
The Ugly- All those bodies in all those walls and not a single bottle of Febreze to be found?
Final Thoughts on Sicario
What I also appreciated about Sicario is that the ending didn't sell out and go for some over-dramatic Hollywood bullshit. It stayed true to its characters and the film is so much more memorable because of it. This movie is tense, exciting, compelling, and one of my top picks of the year. This hitman (Sicario) is the complete opposite of that lifeless bore that I recently saw called Agent 47. Maybe Del Toro should pay those ass wads who made it a visit too? That would make a great movie!
Rating- 9 out of 10
Rating- 9 out of 10
Running Time- 121 Minutes
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