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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Movie Review - Sicario

Sicario (2015)
Starring Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, and Daniel Kaluuya
Directed by Denis Villeneuve

A taut and tense look at the drug trade between the US and countries south of our border, Sicario creates some of the most exciting moments captured in 2015 cinema.  It's unfortunate, though, that those edge-of-your-seat segments are interspersed with some dour, dreary, somewhat boring scenes that certainly advance the plot, but do so without the drive and vigor that carries the rest of the film.  Don't mistake this disappointment with detestation, however, as director Denis Villeneuve's flick is well worth a watch with some nice, un-showy, realistic performances from a solid cast.

At the crux of Sicario is Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), a quiet, though strong FBI agent who, after uncovering an horrific drug-related discovery, is approached by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), a CIA Special Activities Division officer, to join a task force to pick up a high-profile Mexican drug lord.  Also part of the team is Alejandro Gillick (Benicio Del Toro), a Colombian partner who holds a great many secrets that cause Kate to doubt the CIA's intentions and her place in their plans.

Admittedly, the less said the better about the plot of Sicario which, while not necessarily confusing or full of out-of-left-field surprises (both positives, for sure), is best seen not knowing about the tension-filled scenes that are to come.  Denis Villeneuve is quietly becoming the go-to director when your film needs to create a sense of palpable human anxiety as his three English-language films have thus far proven.  (See also Prisoners and Enemy for these similar emotional tones.)  With a script by Taylor Sheridan that gives Villeneuve some stellar set pieces with which to build dismay and distress and a pulsing score by Jóhann Jóhannsson that adds excitement, there are many reasons Sicario works.  As I mentioned previously, however, there are too many lulls in the story that drag the movie down.  Villeneuve has yet to create a flick (that I've seen) where he fully harnesses the nervous apprehension present in the script, but he's come awfully close several times.

Emily Blunt takes on the tough gal role again here (after having much success embodying that tone in Edge of Tomorrow) and she proves a worthy lead.  We can see her mind always questioning her surroundings, cognizant of the fact that the people who are supposed to protect her may just cause her downfall.  Benicio Del Toro's character seems quite one note at the start, but as the film progresses, we see deeper layers culminating in a final scene for his character that truly resonates.  Josh Brolin brings a smarminess to his CIA agent role, but he's quite watchable here.  (I say that as Brolin has never been a favorite of mine, but he tackles this role with just the right amount of smug egoism.)

Despite a few issues, Sicario is a really solid piece of cinema.  There are moments in the film -- a great many of them, actually -- that would've landed this film an 'A' grade, but in the end Villeneuve doesn't quite get everything to gel together perfectly...but he's still a director I'm keeping my eye on in the future.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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