Sicario Review

Preface

  • So Sicario is kind of a smaller movie, and it’s the newest movie from director Denis Villeneuve. He directed Prisoners, one of my Top 15 All-Time Favorite Movies, and he’s doing the new Blade Runner, and the guy really has a good eye so I couldn’t wait to see his next project.
  • And Sicario can be described 1 of 3 ways.
  • It’s exactly like the director of Prisoners did a drug cartel movie.
  • It’s like Seven meets The Usual Suspects meets Breaking Bad.
  • It’s awesome. But kinda “hard to watch” awesome.
  • And it was my most Anticipated Movie for the Rest of 2015, besides Star Wars!

Premise

  • So Sicario did sell me from the director, but the stars and synopsis were really promising going in too.
  • This movie stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benecio Del Toro, and Daniel Kaluuya.
  • The story is centered around this task force made up of FBI agent Emily Blunt, shady cowboy/police ranger Josh Brolin, and their informant of sorts played by Del Toro.
  • And this trio needs to take down a certain cartel that’s been particularly destructive to the government at the start of this movie.
  • And ultimately, the movie is set up (from the first sequence) to be this murky, dirty, grimy thriller that shows you the messes that are involved with cartels like these.

Cast and Characters

  • I’m pretty sure that even though this movie isn’t perfect (we’ll get to those flaws in a bit), it’s gonna be nominated for at least a few Oscars. These include Best Picture, Best Lead Actress, and Best Supporting Actor.
  • All of those nominations will undoubtedly because of the acting in this movie.
  • First of all, my favorite in the whole movie: Emily Blunt as Kate Macer.
  • I’ll say this about Blunt as Macer: the character isn’t written with a TON of qualities, and it’s a very vague character, so Blunt’s performance being as powerful as it was enhanced the movie.
    • There was a part of me that wanted to know more about her character’s background, but the pain that Blunt expresses throughout the film might imply that this war against the cartel is the thing that defines her at the moment.
  • Emily Blunt was incredible though, and is the best performance I’ve seen from any actress this year.
    • She’s compelling, she’s haunted, she’s ruthless but pained.
    • She actually reminded me of Jessica Chastain from Zero Dark Thirty a little bit, but they were separate enough.
  • Kate Macer also reminded me so much of Detective Loki from Prisoners… They’re definitely brother/sister in the Villeneuve connected universe.
  • Then there was the performance that I think stole the third act and that was Benecio Del Toro.
    • I don’t know that he’d DEFINITELY get an Oscar nomination, there’s a lot of great supporting guys out there this year, but Del Toro OWNS the last 25 minutes of this movie.
    • His character is a little predictable, you can probably guess what’s gonna happen to him once the movie starts, but they throw a little twist on it. So you’re only half right when you outsmart the movie!
  • Josh Brolin was really good in the movie the movie too, his character was set up well as this cowboy type.
  • And I guess that’s kinda the thing about him and Del Toro.
  • Brolin and Del Toro played these well-written characters really well.
  • Emily Blunt took this vaguely written character and turned her into a powerhouse.
  • I would remiss if not to mention Daniel Kaluuya though.
  • Talk about the up-and-comer stealing the show!
  • This guy plays Blunt’s partner and his chemistry with her made the smaller moments in the movie feel really impactful.

Writing

  • I’ll say this: some critics have said that the story in this movie is pretty by the numbers.
  • And it is I suppose, but there’s no need to get convoluted in developing a hip new story.
  • The story works for this movie, and there are two or three little twists in there, especially towards the end.
  • The dialogue is good too, all of the characters interact with each other really well, in ways that those characters would interact with each other.
  • But my main issue with Sicario is something kind of related to tone.
  • The movie starts off with very high intensity, ends that way too, and has some super suspenseful moments throughout.
  • BUT since they opened with a super suspenseful moment, the procedural moments of solving the case felt less important and more diffused than those other, cooler, high octane moments.
  • Looking at something like Prisoners, the movie started off pretty casually with a little gloom, but then was plunged into suspense.
  • And EVERY part of Prisoners from then on built that suspense and made it higher, and you were holding your breath for the last 45 minutes of the movie! (At least I was.)
  • Even the procedural parts of Prisoners built suspense, like the interrogations scenes felt so violating…
  • But in Sicario, the procedural scenes just felt like normal scenes, there was no tension there.
  • My solution to this would be to either have the dramatic score (more on that later) stay throughout the scenes, or make those procedural scenes slightly shorter, OR (my preferred way) make the high octane scenes slightly less tense and slightly less high octane.
  • A lot of the stuff in the movie would have the same grotesque effect if it were toned down just 2 or 3% to fit with the other procedural parts of the movie.
  • That’s my only criticism though…
  • A little hard to explain so I went into a lot of detail!
  • But my only other quick note on the writing is that everything in the movie does go together really well.
  • Sure the intense vs. non-intense thing is a little distracting, but Scene 1 flows really well into Scene 2, and both are important going into Scene 3.
  • It almost felt like this was what they wanted True Detective Season 2 to be, to have that type of flow. (I still gotta finish Season 2…)

Directing

  • Let’s talk about my favorite part of the movie though.
  • There’s a reason I was excited for this movie because of the director: because Denis Villeneuve put himself on the map with Prisoners, making a truly artistic film that had grandeur and immense style.
  • And he brought that grandeur and style to Sicario, this time with an impressive slightly larger budget!
  • Villeneuve knows how to craft wide-shots with a lot of resonance and scale.
  • He had some great shots of Mexico and the border that really went well with the hugeness of the conflict too.
  • Villeneuve uses a lot of bright colors too, which contrasted with the dark nature of the situation. It’s cool picking up on stuff like that…
  • He and Roger Deakins (the cinematographer on this film and Prisoners) know how to create the richest, most clear and complex shots imaginable.
  • Villeneuve just brought so much style and his effective artistic element to this movie and it wouldn’t have been the same driving movie without him.
  • Because there are points where this COULD have turned into some dumb Lifetime channel thriller, but Denis Villeneuve knew how to keep the movie going and make the story, even if it was in a smaller part, compelling to watch.
  • And the score is just incredible… It’s so perfectly placed in these daunting and drawn-out portions of the film. I hardly ever notice a film’s score, but hats off to the composers here.

In Conclusion

  • In Conclusion guys, I do have one other minor flaw with the movie: it isn’t for everyone.
  • That could hurt its Oscar chances, but I don’t think it will.
  • Sicario has a very basic story that is told by an extremely effective and artistic storyteller.
  • The film, ultimately, is art.
  • It has a powerhouse performance from one of the best actresses working today, three great supporting characters, really well-shot action, a fantastic scope and style, and just this daunting feel of appreciation that you (hopefully) don’t live right on the border. (Or in Juarez… That was insane.)
  • It does have some minor flaws, mainly the intensity division that I described earlier.
  • Though, this is a film that mixes elements of Seven, The Usual Suspects, Zero Dark Thirty (especially the raid aspects), Kill Bill, Prisoners, and Breaking Bad.
  • Yet it still remains its own unique thing.
  • You guys are going to hear a lot about this thing come Oscar Season, and I would be shocked if it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. I will say that Sicario is Awesome and Worth Checking Out Multiple Times!
  • Though I can completely understand why you wouldn’t…

***

So guys, those are my thoughts on Sicario! What are your guys thoughts on this movie if you’ve seen it yet? Let me know in the comments down below, and as always, thanks for reading guys.

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