Sicario – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

sicarioSicario – 4/5 – Raw, gritty and tense; terms used to describe suspenseful and thriller styled films.  No matter the topic, story or characters; suspense can pull on the string of any audience.   Sicario is a film that does just that.  A mixture of shady government agencies, criminal organization and idea’s of right and honor; Sicario is a film that pushes this to the utmost extremes.  Even with some obvious plot devices used and cliché archetypes, Sicario will keep you on the edge of your seat till the end.

Premise: An idealist agent is brought into a task force to tackle the drug war on the border.  With all on the line; morals are tested and each person involved must come to terms with ‘whatever it takes’ to win this war.

At the heart of this film is the main acting.  The film follows three individuals; each with different motives in this criminal story.  You have:

Emily Blunt as Kate Macer

Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro

Josh Brolin as Matt Graver

These three actors do an amazing job in creating realism through subtlety.  With a lot of time focused on them; you get to see them grow through long stretches of conversations, exposition and single monologues.  As a whole, they capture the essence of the raw ambiguity of the tone.  There are a lot of high stakes at play; as the group has to work together to take down a specific cartel from Mexico.  How they go about it is what creates a haze of ‘trust’.  Emily Blunt as Kate Macer is the initial person you see, as you get to see she is the level headed, kind hearted individual of this group.  A leader of a SWAT team in Arizona, she is brought into the group because of some unforeseen reason.  It seems objective and righteous at first, but things begin to shed truths she doesn’t agree with.  She is caught in a web of law enforcing she either doesn’t understand or fully agrees with.  This creates a lot of emotional turmoil, one where it wanes on the character morally and physically.  Her mentality is broken down to the core, as Blunt acts them through fragile interactions and strong emotional scenes.  She does a great job in creating the innocence of a broken character, one that feels real.  Josh Brolin plays the typical ‘shady’ government agent.  In that typical archetype, he adds a subtle veracity that breaks the one dimensional type and adds layers to his posturing of choice.  He is brash but free spirited; hiding facts from fiction because of the line he dances between being lawful or morally right.  He looks for the best of any outcome, while also trying to protect Macer from her strict moral code.  This conflict creates great dialogue between him and Blunt; driven by exposition of social values, choices and the honest will of one.  If Brolin plays the side that is both good and bad, then Del Toro is the man that shows what it takes to get the job done in just making the hard choices.  Playing Alejandro; he creates a character that’s a man of a mysterious past.  His past also dictates his calm demeanor.  That fragile balance between him and the other two creates that great triangle dynamic.  You see methods at their purest, showing how human nature has influence in the present because of the past.  His charisma is strong; an approach that is riveting because of the power in his lines, even if they are subdued because of simple diction.  He carries the film through its dark tone; pushing limits of his charm against the fragility of life and fate.  With the rest of the cast, there isn’t anything out of the ordinary.  You have standard archetypes that can fall in one of these three categories:

Shady Government agencies

One dimensional street gang members/military spec ops.

The ‘second voice’ sidekick(s)

This does take away from the suspense in the film.  The contrasting also has an effect on the direction.

The direction can be described as an even flow of two styles.  In the typical style, the film takes an approach of evolving along a linear method.  Within this style, it brings a stapled method of a journey.  In that journey, you are given another paralleling style with layering; one where each act reveals another element that pushes the characters and story in the film.  The film lets you build suspense slowly; allowing the characters to grow at their own pace.  The film breaks down as follow:

First Act: Standard action sequence leads to explicit plot device kick starter. Linear path moves as layers are revealed.  Main character(s) are brought together on mysterious mission.  Mission leads to conflict (either morally or physically); leading to another stage of truths.

Second Act: consequences of second truths that lead to criminal investigation; intense scenarios and more evidence of the purpose of the mission.  Confrontation of choices and character(s) alliance breaks down.

Third Act: Ultimate truths revealed; Fateful confrontation of characters against fate.  Outcome leads to conclusive revelation in a characterized breakdown.

The film flows evenly between the acts because of its dark, heavy tone.  The audience sees this through each of three acts because of the method of the direction.  Evolving slowly but also allowing characters to grow gives a pace that is eerie, tense and raw.  You feel the anguish in the main three characters on different levels.  You see this through their conflict with each other as well as others in the film.  This allows this fight against the Cartel more believable; revealing an honest window of the real world and an ‘edge of your seat’ thriller on the big screen.  It is hard to give realism an entertaining value, but this film does it with such pristine.  This is only possible because of the slick script and perfect timing with situations, scenarios and conflicts.   Gritty situations come at us shockingly, as character’s growth show the fragile balance between method and morals against what is really the truth.  Even in its strength, it does have some downfalls.  The negative impact is these styles saturate the mood.  Since there is such a heavy emphasize on tone, it fails to hide the predictable nature of the ‘by-the-numbers’ crime/investigation storyline.  As the characters are pulling threads to try to find a way to take down this particular cartel; and it devolves the fateful layering into predictable plot devices.  The audience will see the evidence that come to light foreshadow certain outcomes coming before they are on screen.  This hinders the overall story, but not the enjoyment.  Once the film hits the climax, it is both heart wrenching and fateful.  All the methods used in this film lead to this specific ultimate confrontation.  This becomes bittersweet; gasping at the gritty feelings, but knowing it was coming a mile away.  Once the film heads into the epilogue, you get to see how indifference has defined the main characters; seeing a level of humanism breaking down in both the story and characters.

The visuals are relevant only to the methods used in this film.  Since there is a dark tone, a lot of the aspects used are object focused, dark lighting and dark color driven.  There is a ‘dreary’ illumination throughout; allowing the infusion of location and characters.   The score is mute at best; having no real influence either way in the film.

Sicario is a film with a lot of suspense, but also contrasting because it is predict at fault.  Even for this simplistic allure and common plot techniques and devices; there is a lot of in this film to keep you going.  If you’re a fan of the actors involved or like a really great suspenseful film; this is one for you.  You won’t go wrong if you saw this Friday night.

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