Some filmmakers seem to thrive in the stories that drag their characters through hell. These films often evoke feelings of distaste for your fellow humans and bring about questions of morality and lack thereof. Often the main character acts as the driver and we as the audience are riding “shotgun”. The protagonist is taken from familiar “roads” and thrown into a world where everyone drives on the wrong side of the road and usually someone dies. I realize that doesn’t make a lot of sense but I’m trying to describe what the main character of Sicario is feeling only in her case that feeling of being on unfamiliar roadways also involves decomposing and dismembered bodies. So you know, a certain level of confusion sprinkled over vast amounts of puke inducing fear but while also driving on the wrong side of the street; which sort of makes sense when dealing with so called humans as vile as drug cartels. It’s a world so packed with unimaginably cruel and heinous acts of violence that is “never personal” (as if that’s supposed to make it better) that it makes one feel as if they’ve landed on another planet that could use a visit from the Death Star.
One of those talented (and possibly mildly psychotic but we won’t hold that against them) filmmakers that makes demented and dismal look so crisp and enthralling is Denis Villeneuve. He directed one of the best films of 2013 Prisoners and one of my favorite films of all time Enemy and with this latest effort he solidifies his place among the greatest still working today. He brings on people who are immensely talented and combined with his sharp eye and aptitude for taking us where we don’t always want to go he has molded film after film that showcase true innate talent.
One of his most frequent collaborations is with 12-time Oscar nominated cinematographer, Roger Deakins. In my most humble of opinions, Deakins is one of the most talented cinematographers that has ever graced a movie set. He is able to take the most simple surroundings and backdrops and turn them into an almost unspoken form of poetry. The most astonishing aspect of his career is he is twelve times nominated with zero wins. He is the Leo DiCaprio of cinematographers, it’s difficult to comprehend why he hasn’t taken home that golden, naked, sexually ambiguous statue named Oscar. No justice I suppose is one good answer. It will happen, eventually. With Sicario his form is as alive as ever. From The Shawsank Redemption to Unbroken, he is one of the best at his craft as is Villeneuve.
One of the most impressive aspects to Sicario and a true testament to its cast and crew, the script was written by rookie (first time as writer) screenwriter, Taylor Sheridan (Deputy Hale on Sons of Anarchy!). Despite this being his freshmen orientation, his story in the right hands has been crafted into a taut and endlessly tension-filled dark thriller.
Emily Blunt confidently and convincingly leads a stellar cast featuring the menacing and deadly Benicio Del Toro, the always entertaining Josh Brolin and an abundance of other talented thespians. Sicario manages to both bring forth elements that are familiar to the public regarding actual cartel activities and elements that aim to show just how close this war is to our doorstep. In some cases the fight is in our damn living room.
One of it’s greatest achievements is portraying just how blurred the lines are in this war between drug cartels and the U.S Government. The bad guys are not always (rarely in fact) discernible from the good ones and this often leads to distrust and betrayal. When someone decent like Emily Blunt’s character is thrown into this den of cannibalistic, blood-thirsty wolves it creates a small window into what it’s like simply trying to keep track of what’s what and who’s who. Can you trust this person? Can you trust anything you see at all? Will you be killed simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Probably on that last question. This is a grim and at times all-too-realistic glimpse into a world so horrific and border-less that anyone near it will eventually be swallowed alive never emerging the same again. This world changes the lives it ruins. Sicario is a fantastically stark but enthralling look into this dark alleyway that should never be walked into.
Rated R For: strong violence, grisly images, and language
Runtime: 121 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: drama, thriller, action, crime
Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Jon Bernthal
Directed By: Denis Villeneuve
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4.5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 4.5
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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