Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sicario - Review

FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) volunteers to join up with some Department of Defense agents in snuffing out a deadly Mexican drug cartel. Unfortunately, she finds herself constantly in the dark and practically handcuffed on each and every perilous mission. SICARIO is another straight-up dark thriller from director Denis Villeneuve, whose previous film PRISONERS has grown critically with time. As with that movie, Villeneuve and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan examine the insatiable lust for criminal justice, starting off in a quaint American suburb in Arizona before then bouncing between the Mexico-America border. It balances between its liberal and conservative agendas nicely thanks to some shocking gut-punches; tying up some cartel lieutenants with legal drama is far more frivolous than just taking a main head out of the picture and you can't always cheer on the results-driven army unit when they often cross international and moral boundaries. Similar in the veins of TRAINING DAY, the film's theming of having its main protagonist be a sponge for the "new laws of the west" is very beneficial for the viewer, as we identify with the internal struggle of Kate and the lack of information being given, including the true purpose of Kate being attached to the assignment. Blunt expertly captures a character that is smart and talented but way in over her head, willing to fight and kill yet emotionally shaken by how the blood is being spilled. Josh Brolin does a fine job as a snarky and manipulative officer but he is outshone by Benicio del Toro, who disturbingly plays a world-beaten tagalong that is actually far more warm and deadly that he lets on. However, the real star of the film is Roger Deakins, whose masterful cinematography creates some magnificent tableaus, shadow-filled dangers, alien-looking landscapes, and fantastically revealing pans and tilts. He can't fully overcome the arduous hurdle of making night vision work in an action scene but he does the best he can. The movie does falter towards the last act when Kate endlessly harps on the lack of arrests and truth-filled reports, removing further characterization for her and turning her into one-dimensional talking parrot, but it's perfectly clear that Villeneuve is noting that that there is no clean strategy in this scenario. As hauntingly delivered by a character at the very end, "this is a land of wolves now."


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