Wednesday, November 25, 2015

SICARIO (2015)

Rated: R

STARS: Emily Blunt, Benecio Del Toro, Josh Brolin
DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve
GENRE: Action/Thriller

There's an old song from the seventies by Dave Mason, with a refrain that goes: ...there ain't no good guy...there ain't no bad guy...and that seems to be the not so subtle point Sicario is making about the failed and misguided American war on drugs. 

Emily Blunt is Kate, an idealistic FBI agent who gets recruited to join an inter-agency task force that aims to bring down a brutal Mexican drug cartel jefe.  
To accomplish their objective, they must first make a foray into the most lawless and dangerous cesspool in the western hemisphere--Juarez--to kidnap one of the cartel's top men. As she is drawn deeper into the violence and moral ambiguity of the mission, Kate's ethical compass is spinning out of control. 

Blunt has shown she is capable of much more depth and nuance (in films such as Sunshine Cleaning and The Adjustment Bureau) than what this role affords her the opportunity to display. And I scratch my head as to why she was drawn to the film to begin with, other than maybe she's always wanted to play an action hero?   

The pros of Sicario are the gritty performances from Josh Brolin, as undercover CIA guy, Matt Graver;  and Benicio Del Toro, Matt's partner--a loose cannon intent upon exacting a personal revenge. The cons, in my opinion, are the grisly scenes of violence (unless you are pathologically drawn to that sort of thing, like SOME people I know), particularly the shocker near the end that only serves to attempt to justify the utter depravity that we, as humans, will resort to with our eye for an eye, end-justifies-the-means mentality.

 Bottom line...if you're thirsty for blood, forgo the latest vampire movie and see Sicario instead.    

Grade:  C


I can't imagine who Tim might be referring to when he talks about aficionados of violence! Me, I thirst after blood when it's part of the story. And, indeed, Sicario offers a lot of it. It also offers an abundance of confusion. Not just for Emily Blunt's character, who is kept in the dark for two-thirds of the film. I, too, was totally confused. As a rule, I like good villains (good as in nasty, cruel, sadistic, etc.). But I couldn't decide between Josh Brolin's perpetual sneer and Benicio Del Toro's squinty eyes. I will, however, give mucho kudos to Benicio (Benny for short) for his stellar performance.
For me, the real star of this vehicle was the scorer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, whose repetitive themes set a scary mood from beginning to end. Not unlike John Williams' theme in Jaws.
I walked away from this movie, fascinated by the fact that ISIS has now taken over the headlines. You don't hear much about the drug war south of our border these days. The fact that the biggest drug lord of them all, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who tunneled his way out of a Mexican jail nearly four months ago, is still on the loose is hardly mentioned. Guess that's the point of Sicario. You can't catch 'em all, even in the movies.

Grade: B