Sicario

(2015)

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Title:
Sicario
Release Date:
17th September 2015
Runtime:
121 min
MPAA Rating:
R
Genres:
Directors:
Denis Villeneuve
Writers:
Taylor Sheridan
Languages:
English, Spanish
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent [Emily Blunt] is enlisted by an elite government task force official [Josh Brolin] to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past [Benicio Del Toro], the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive. (C) Lionsgate

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 94%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 85%
IMDb Rating 7.6

Casts

Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro
Emily Blunt as Kate Macer
Josh Brolin as Matt Graver
Victor Garber as Dave Jennings

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by James De Bello 24th September, 2015

8/10

One of those select few thrillers that will have your eyes stuck to the screen from the opening credits to the very end, and I mean that literally: I changed my sitting position many times during the film, yet I clearly recall never ever turning my head away from the film, this is how intense it is. With this Denis Villenueve has now consolidated his name as one of most important and gifted directors of our time and has shown us he is here to stay. I truly marvel at how this film is so tightly put together and even despite it faults, which it has, especially in script, it just never gives you a chance to breathe and take it all in, thanks to the atmosphere that is established from shot one until the last one, you are always anticipating something's going to happen and that is the sign you are watching a great thriller. You are always on the edge of your seat and in some occasions you are really biting your knuckles. The movie has a way to throw you into the action that is really rare to find, especially in a highway sequence where I literally felt I was there. All of this is achieved thanks to probably the best cinematography of this whole year. Deakins does it again, once more playing with a lot of blacks and shadows and once more succeeding one hundred percent. Also remarkable is the use of helicopter shots which don't feel like connective tissue, but actually part of the organic, that's something really hard to pull off. The sound design of this film is flat out amazing, some of the best I have truly ever had the pleasure to experience. It is so in you face, so tight, it really contributes in making you feel a part of this even in the more intimate scenes. Music too is also excellent and while some may say it was a little too ominous and dark I felt it matched the tone perfectly and enhanced some parts magnificently, contributing to a nail-biting building of tension. Of course one couldn't get past reviewing this film without nominating the three great performances at its center. Del Toro, Brolin and Blunt are each better than the other and continue stealing the screen to themselves scene after scene. There really isn't one stand out, the three of them just excel sky high and give depth to characters that are interesting. The characters are really what holds the film together, they are truly developed three dimensionally and explored in depths that aren't normally reached. What makes the film stumble is the fact that in never has a good enough plot to make things as interesting as they should be. It really has a hard time in setting up which way it's going and in the end it actually doesn't end up with a satisfying resolution. You are certainly left with something to think about because of the themes, the characters, the atmosphere and the intensity, but all in all the plot doesn't offer interesting turns and not enough moral questioning, unlike "Prisoners", and so remains slightly one-note for the whole duration. It also has a totally useless character in Blunt's partner, which other than never understanding why he was there or what was his arch in the film, I never understood how he was being played. Still there is nothing short of amazing in what Villenueve achieves in two hours. What could have been a screenplay turned into a very generic police drama, is actually one of the most atmospheric and tense movies of the year.

Reviewed by hamish-25851 24th September, 2015

Tense, intelligent drama, with thriller overtones

The badlands of the US - Mexico border and the viciousness of the drug trade running across it sets the background and the tone for this movie. It's grim. Human life is very cheap and the movie doesn't flinch from showing consequences. There are definitely some scenes that are not for the faint hearted, but there is nothing gratuitous here. If anything - despite the subject matter - the film goes out of its way to avoid Hollywood heroics. Emily Blunt does an amazing job portraying Kate Macy, a career policewoman heading a SWAT team. Her accent slips slightly a couple of times, but otherwise she's utterly believable as born and raised in the deep south of the US. Kate is a fundamentally decent, honorable human being, trying to the right thing in a world where the rule book doesn't seem to work any more. She's smart, tough, and experienced - but right from the start of the movie, it's clear that she's in over her head. The tension never lets up. An attack could come at any moment, from any direction. Anything could be a trap. All of it, no matter how extreme something is, plays as real. The director manages scenes expertly to avoid any clean and easy action movie cliches, and it pays off enormously as the movie goes on. It's also a highly intelligent movie, made for an intelligent audience. It doesn't lay things out on a plate. Instead you have to pay attention and you have to think, just as Kate has to - because her first mistake could be her last. Staging, costuming, sets, cinematography, and lighting are all perfect. Some airborne shots in particular stand out as both daring and stunningly original, clearly showing just how harsh the landscape is, while managing to propel the story forward - without showing anyone, no less. This part of the movie is in the "As good as it gets" category. The only part that I didn't like (and the reason that this doesn't get a 10 from me) was the music. It's used deliberately to heighten tension during some scenes which would otherwise break the feel of the movie, and generally it's done well, but some scenes are spoiled with a There Will Be Blood styled screech. It's really not needed, especially since Sicario's own score manages to build or maintain tension quite successfully in other parts of the movie while remaining low-key. To my mind, this is much more of a drama than it is a thriller. It's certainly not an action movie. The acting from the support cast is exactly what it needs to be - good in general, and great when a minor character is the focal point - but look closely at how much Benicio del Toro manages to do with no dialogue and not even all that much movement. Simply amazing. This is a great movie to see if you want to be challenged.

Reviewed by www.ramascreen.com 17th September, 2015

One of this year's best thrillers

More visceral than Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic." SICARIO is about the cost to pay in a drug war and its merciless brutality. Masterfully shot, perfectly acted. This is a film that doesn't allow you to feel comfortable. With each passing moment, it crawls its way deeper and deeper into this world where death is its only end game. Director Denis Villenuve reteams with master cinematographer Roger Deakins to take advantage of the desert, the weather, the landscape, the terrain, and use them as silent supporting characters that also serve to express the characters' inner demons. Deakins is a multiple Oscar-nominated DP that gets better with every work and in SICARIO, you will see that he once again experiments with even richer and newer ways of shooting, whether it's the night vision first person view or the angles to capture the intensity at the border, moments before weapons are drawn, it's like enrolling in another classroom taught by Deakins but with extra curriculums to learn. The man just knows how to leave his competition behind. To me, what I think is impressive about Emily Blunt is that she is beauty and strength all in one. She can express torment and conflicted soul so effortlessly, she plays this FBI agent, Kate Macer who does things by the book, she always holds herself and others accountable for every detail, so when she volunteers to be a part of a black ops that practically throws the book out the window, her idealistic views are put to the test. And I think Emily Blunt does a nice job of executing that. It's somewhat of a fish out of water story where Blunt's Kate Macer knows she's being used but she wants to know what she's being used for. Oscar winner, Benicio Del Toro has walked through this territory before in Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" where he played a Tijuana police officer. In SICARIO, he plays a mysterious character, Alejandro, he's skilled, a man of a few words, soft spoken, but highly intense and has a sharp instinct. What has always been brilliant about Del Toro, in all of his works including SICARIO, is that he can say much without actually saying much at all. In the case of his character, Alejandro, there's a certain dark pain that's magnetic about him. It's all in the eyes. Oscar nominee Josh Brolin plays the leader of the team, Matt Graver, he talks way too damn much but that is also a part of his game, his game of manipulating others. I've never been to Juarez, I've heard horrible stories about that place, and SICARIO, though it wasn't exactly filmed in Juarez, does manage to put the fear of God in audiences' heart by showing Juarez for what it is, there's no sugar coating, there's no hiding that it's one of the murder capitals of the world. It's a deeply harrowing part that will stay with you long after you've done watching the film which in and of itself wrestles with questions of morality.SICARIO means 'hit-man,' you'll come to wonder which of those three lead characters is the actual hit-man but ultimately, what SICARIO gives you is this dilemma,... if somebody could finally solve the drug cartel and drug kingpin problems for the rest of us, would you really care that they did it by killing instead of bringing the perp to justice?

Reviewed by Clayton Davis ([email protected]) 12th September, 2015

'Sicario' Soars with Benicio del Toro and Emily Blunt in tow!

Feverishly satisfying with pulse-pounding energy that's sure to give your heart its full day's work, Denis Villenueve's masterful "Sicario" with Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, and Josh Brolin is an edge of your seat thriller that exemplifies the finest parts of the action genre. Filled with mystery, suspense, and outstanding performances, Villenueve's direction, along a tight script by Taylor Sheridan, brings a much needed sense of technique and art that's been sorely missing from the 2015 movie year. "Sicario" tells the story of an idealistic FBI agent names Kate (Blunt), who is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico. With the "guidance" of a mysterious agent Alejandro (Del Toro) and her superior Matt (Brolin), and influx of intrigue and morals will shake Kate to her very core. First and foremost, "Sicario" breathes new life into contemporary cinematography, as produced by no less than the great Roger Deakins. A vessel for God's eye on the world, Deakins ignites the fire of his vision, capturing some of the finest shots seen this decade. His use of shadows, CGI, and choices in which to convey and portray emotions is downright genius. Becoming essentially another character in the story, Deakins gives a master's class on cinematography for future craftsmen and women to behold. It's a work that will surely land him his thirteenth Oscar nomination. Above that, we are treated to fantastic and awards worthy performances. Emily Blunt, as seen in nearly everything she touches, shows herself as one of the most interesting and endearing actresses working today. Her courage and vulnerability for Kate is personified by Blunt's ability to connect with the character's soul. She lays into Kate calmly, echoing great performances like Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty" but with more reserve. Benicio Del Toro is downright magnificent. As Alejandro, he delivers his best performance since "21 Grams." A dedicated sensation that calls back to all types of performances such as Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" or Gene Hackman in "The French Connection." You won't be able to take your eyes off him. Josh Brolin utilizes every ounce of his charm that has made him one of the most sought after actor's in the business. A memorable, though understated and undervalued character that you do want more clarity about. Other cast members like Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Donovan, Victor Garber, and especially Daniel Kaluuya are given their fair share of opportunity, which all take well. As a technical endeavor, "Sicario" also succeeds in its vibrantly living sound design, and illustrious score by Academy Award nominee Johann Johannsson. The two are married in a blistering union of tension and heart palpitations. Editor Joe Walker is a shining star behind the scenes as well, thanks to his precision and patience in bringing a scene right to the edge, and knowing when and where to take it next. It's his most innovative work yet, even surpassing his nominated work on "12 Years a Slave." Goes without saying that "Sicario" is Denis Villenueve's best work to date. Coming from someone that thoroughly enjoyed "Prisoners" and tolerated "Enemy," this is his most accessible and compelling piece. If anything, he's just so damn exciting to watch these days, as he locates strange vehicles for actor's and craftsmen to come together. He takes on a genre that may feel familiar, like the drug cartel, but makes it feel new and smart. "Sicario" is hands down one of the year's best films.

Reviewed by Serge_Zehnder 11th September, 2015

El País de los Lobos

"Sicario" describes, with surgical precision, the fatal and bloody desecration of Mexico as a result of its decades long cartel war. And it does so by compressing this almost endless tragedy into a two-hour tour-de-force of filmmaking. At its center we find idealistic FBI-Agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), who is recruited to pursue a Mexican drug-baron. She is being guided by a seemingly untouchable covert assassin named Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). Their investigation and methods are pushed further into unknown territory where justice and morality are no longer valid. The end not only justifies the means, it requires them. Denis Villeneuve's masterful piece exemplifies not only filmmaking of the highest order, but carves out a place alongside the terrible news reports as a deeply regretful, angry and at times almost unbearable look into the abyss of a socio-political nightmare that is fueled by first world-habit and global economics. Through the powerful performances by Blunt, Del Toro and Josh Brolin in the leads as well as the excellent supporting cast, do we get a sense of the human cost (physical and psychological), which the war on drugs has caused. From an exploding prison population, to the destruction of Mexican agriculture, to refugees and a cycle of violence that is beyond barbarity; the pull that "Sicario" exerts over the viewer is undeniable and by skirting the limits of bearable tension, without ever becoming exploitive, it is never giving an inch concerning its subject matter. Few movies this year will have such a clear and defined structure and unflinching approach towards a situation that appears to be beyond salvation, while showing at the same time that life nevertheless continues. Taylor Sheridan's script doesn't miss a single beat and without sidestepping anything frees itself from beaten movie conventions by using them in an extremely skillful manner. All these themes, stories and characters are captured through the lens of veteran Roger Deakins (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) who lets us always know how the micro- and macro-particles of any conflict are inextricably intertwined. We share the vistas of beautiful sceneries while having to witness their downfall. Whatever ideals the likes of Emiliano Zapata once had, their country has now, as it is described in the movie, become „the land of wolves". Fifteen years ago Steven Soderbergh's „Traffic" which earned numerous Oscars, not the least of which went to Benicio Del Toro, made a clear statement about the various strands the drug trafficking business touches. Now, all those years later we see in „Sicario" that even the faintest of hopes that „Traffic" held onto have been eviscerated. What now? One might ask.