Saturday, October 3, 2015

Movie Review: Sicario


I just read the last chapters of the great novel The Cartel by Don Winslow right before I left to see this movie. 

Being familiar with Denis Villeneuve's work, I wasn't expecting an action-packed thriller but a slow, tense, mounting drama that leaves questions long after the viewing. I was not disappointed. Emily Blunt is one of my favorite actresses and her character was great. She should probably get nominated for her descent into the dark underbelly of the CIA and Juarez.  I also enjoy seeing both Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin in any film so their duo of CIA contractors (or whatever) was fun to see on screen. However, I do think Benicio stole the show and it is more about him than Emily's character despite what I picked up from the previews. All around the acting was really great. I wanted to see Emily Blunt's character shoot Benicio's Alejandro at the end but I knew it wouldn't happen. She just couldn't win. 

The violence starts early and I can't remember another film since Traffic that has depicted the violence of the drug war so explicitly. The extraction of the key witness and the resulting highway shootout was intense. Jon Bernthal makes a surprising cameo,which was one of the best parts. 

The cinematography was beautiful, such amazing shots of the desert. This will be in the top ten movies of the year unless there are some surprises. 

Another part was Maximiliano Hernandez's character Silvio in the subplot with his son. I recognized him from the Marvel Universe and his work on other minor characters. I thought this really showed the effect of the drug war on families and the innocent young who are caught up in this horrible war.  

This movie did get me to think of the crazy, inexplicable nature of the drug war through both American continents. The book I was reading as well and the Netflix show Narcos, which I might post a review on a bit later. I'm glad this issue is getting more attention in popular entertainment, now it just needs to get more attention in the news. Like one of the team members says in Sicario, "This [a shootout on the border highway] won't even make the front page in El Paso", but the thing that I picked up from The Cartel novel was that a lot of the journalists were threatened, and subsequently killed. Writing in fear of your life is one of the bravest actions I can think of and I shouldn't forget how lucky I am to write what a want without fear. 

I've always been more afraid of Narcoterrorism over Islamic Terrorism but I can't help but see the comparisons. None of these stories show any hope of a solution and the confusion is apparent on who is to blame, the suppliers or the buyers. It's not going away any time soon. 

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