Scott Says the Dark and Gritty SICARIO Hits the Bullseye!

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FILM REVIEW: SICARIO

BY SCOTT PETERSON

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Director Denis Villeneuve burst onto the directorial scene with 2010’s Incendies, but it wasn’t until 2013 when the glass was magnified with his American film debut Prisoners with Hugh Jackman. (Spoiler alert: I’m still trying to figure out if Hugh is still stuck underground blowing that damn whistle.) With Sicario, Villeneuve has taken the gloom and doom from Prisoners and upped the ante. He effectively takes us on a ride through the Mexican drug cartel’s underbelly and as Benecio Del Toro’s ruthless character Alejandro so aptly explains “Nothing will make sense to your American ears, and you will doubt everything we do” It’s seedy, it’s grimy as hell, and you absolutely can’t take your eyes off the screen.

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Kate,(the excellent Emily Blunt) is an F.B.I. tactician with an acute expertise at uncovering drug cartel safe houses and rescuing kidnapped victims located across the United States. After a chilling opening sequence, it doesn’t take long for her to catch the eyes of her bosses and she is quickly recruited by the shady Matt (Josh Brolin) and a team of agents to join the front line on the war against the Mexican cartels.  Unbeknownst to Kate, she is quickly ushered off to Juarez, Mexico which is out of the United States jurisdiction.  Every question she asks is met with a smirk and a shoulder shrug.  The “by the books” Kate finds herself caught in a world in which in order to catch the bad guy, sometimes you have to turn a blind eye and that just doesn’t sit well with her.  To make matters worse, she is being constantly shadowed by Alejandro (Benecio Del Toro), a cold eyed mercenary who has his own reasons for joining the mission.  Del Toro is fantastic, conjuring up memories of Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men.

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Sicario is not for the faint of heart. Villeneuve isn’t interested in tugging on heartstrings and putting a bow on it at all the end. The cinematography by Roger Deakins is also outstanding, taking us front in center as Mexico practically becomes a character all in itself. Another constant theme in Sicario is the Unites States involvement in foreign affairs. You will find yourself questioning some of the governments motivations and the methodology used to produce the end result. Does the end justify the mean?  Sicario will no doubt be on many people’s short list come Academy Award time and for good reason. From it’s directing, acting, cinematography, and screenwriting, Sicario checks off all the boxes.  Just be prepared to get your hands a little dirty.

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FINAL WORD: StarStarStarHalf Star