Wednesday, September 30, 2015

If only SICARIO was as good as I’d hoped

     Denis Villeneuve directed the excellent Prisoners (2013) and I thought Sicario would be an amalgamation of that and Zero Dark Thirty (2012).  Instead, it felt more like a quick overview of The Bridge’s two seasons.  I guess there won’t be a third.  The Bridge went nuts because the writers couldn’t keep the story focused and there were so many subplots and characters that didn’t really figure into the main conflict that it just sort of lost me.  Sicario goes in the opposite direction: once things make sense, the plot doesn’t go anywhere you wouldn’t expect.  Basically, Taylor Sheridan wrote a western masquerading as an action thriller with hot topic political overtones.  The primary failing of the movie is that after thirty minutes where we’re trying to get our bearings, the script doesn’t tantalize us with any reversals or surprises.  There’s one character that I kept thinking wasn’t as good as he seemed, but I was reading more into what was said about him than was intended.

Emily Blunt
     Sicario starts off explosively, both literally and metaphorically.  It also continues an American commercial/artistic movie obsession with gruesomeness that began with The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and I don’t mean that as a compliment.  Roger Deakins, one of the best cinematographers working, really captures the dusty, drab desert atmosphere of the border.  All I could think was why would people want to live there if they weren’t going to be involved in the drug industry or work as extras in movies about it?  Yes, the drug industry is illegal, but it follows most of the cutthroat customs of international conglomerates; they just take them to their logically vicious conclusions.  The primary villain even states the great maxim of business as someone is being axed:  it’s nothing personal.

Emily Blunt 
     We’ve loved Emily Blunt over the past decade because she’s taken on many types of roles in a variety of genres.  Here, she plays an ordinary American, who happens to be an FBI agent assigned to kidnappings.  She does what she can with the main part, but it’s a neophyte stand-in for the audience and I found myself a couple of steps ahead of her character so it was frustrating.  This feeling began for me right after she volunteers for a team assignment to go after drug smuggling.  That’s what she thinks, but I won’t reveal more because it’s the only twist to the story.  

Benicio Del Toro
     It’s Benicio Del Toro’s movie, both in terms of his character and his performance.  He’s like an updated Eli Wallach from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966).  He plays in a more understated manner than Wallach, but I could tell he cared about this character because he actually enunciates his 
Josh Brolin
lines.  Josh Brolin plays the lead cowboy and I’d love to see him ride a horse; it’s a shame such a scene couldn’t have been worked in because it would have brought some much needed humor to a tense, but not suspenseful, movie.

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