“Sicario”

Real chemistry can be seen between Benicio del Toro and Emily Blunt in “Sicario” , a thriller/revenge morality tale. The CIA,the FBI and the Columbian and Mexican drug cartels make for grisly images,procedural tinkerings, and “big picture” overviews of anti-drug soldiering. Situational ethics move with the clouds ,and you have never heard a better score, composed by Johann Johannsson and  some tracks performed by the Bucharest Symphony. I really liked this film. It is as complicated and as hellish as any war, and as nerve shattering. The pace under the direction of Denis Villeneuve is perfection. There is little dialogue,yet Taylor Sheridan has written a tight story that forces us to understand evil and its ramifications. The film’s transitions are superb. ” Be Alert, be vigilant, be aware” becomes the viewers’ mantra as it does our protagonist Kate’s.

Kate is an FBI agent with tactical experience who volunteers for an interagency task force with a crafty CIA agent named Matt ( Josh Brolin). Accompanied with music deep, dark and bass, a black caravan of Tahoes enter Juarez, Mexico. We see dangling and dismembered bodies,hear helicopter blades beat dread and fear, and realize that eight dead bodies on the borderline “won’t even make the paper in El Paso”.

Kate learns that she is being used as a decoy to trap agents on the take. In the “Wild Pony” bar, Kate dances and drinks only to fight for her life as part of the team. The “team” creates chaos and balances the score. They find a major tunnel, but understand that nothing will be where it is today. The scenes of border madness are amazing. Bus loads of migrant workers are interrogated and transported.

As Kate longs for the objective of their mission, Alejandro (del Toro) speaks of the Mexican cartel leader Manuel Diaz as a killer of thousands either killed by his hand or his blessing. He explains to Kate that killing him would be like finding a vaccine. Kate realizes that the FBI is not even scratching the surface. Only chickens and mules cross the drug land without money changing hands.

Benicio del Toro does his best work to date. He is tender and extremely violent. If “Sicario” means “zealot” in Jerusalem and “hitman” in Mexico, Alejandro is both. His violence is horrendous and personal. The action keeps moving along with the boundaries and the bad men. The music is often dirge like. The storm brewing makes use of dark skies and thunder. Thermal cameras are used to cinematic advantage. Natural sun sets contrast with the unnatural, like wives and children being shot or thrown into vats of acid. When Del Toro tells Blunt that she is “not a wolves’ wolf and this is a land of wolves”,we understand.

The final shot of children playing soccer amidst the crack of gunfire leaves its mark,too. Yet,prepare to see gray in all its variations while you are at the edge of your seat throughout this amazing film.

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Christine Muller

Carrying a torch for film is what I have done for over forty years, thus the flambleau flamed when I was urged to start a blog. Saving suitcase loads of ticket stubs was no longer relevent so I had to change the game. Film has been important for me in the classroom and a respite for me outside of it. No other art form seems to edge the frayed seams of life as neatly as when a film is done well. I am happy that over one-hundred countries have citizens viewing my thoughts on Word Press, and a few leaving their own with me. Over eight- hundred comments to date, and over two-hundred films reviewed.

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