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Review: Sicario

Sicario
10.01.2015
10 10
The following review originally ran as part of TIFF 2015

PLOT: After a routine bust unearths a houseful of corpses related to the cartels, an idealistic FBI agent (Emily Blunt) is recruited by a shadowy government operative (Josh Brolin) to be part of a deadly operation in Mexico, which seeks to unearth a well-insulated drug lord.

REVIEW: SICARIO is exactly the kind of movie I hope to see anytime I visit a film festival. A dark, harrowing look at the drug war, this is everything a successful crime drama should be. It has the thrills and action of a major Hollywood blockbuster, but at it's heart SICARIO is a deeply complicated, troubling story that takes place entirely in a world of grey. Hideous moral compromises are there to be made, and vengeance – while immediately satisfying – is proven to be a hollow victory at best.

This is familiar ground for director Denis Villeneuve, and in a way if could be seen at the third in a loose trilogy all tied together by the same theme. What's really intriguing about SICARIO is how, through Blunt's morally upstanding and occasionally naive agent, we're kept in the dark for so long only to finally have the carpet pulled out from under-us in an astonishing conclusion that will leave many jaws hanging wide open when it hits theaters later this month.

Like PRISONERS, this is an impeccably mounted production, with superb lensing by DP Roger Jenkins, and a tense, bass-heavy score by Johann Johannsson that's a far cry from his Oscar-winning, sentimental score for THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. This is the first Villeneuve movie to really dabble in the action genre, and his violent set-pieces are superbly designed, with a border shootout that closes the first third of the movie being shot with a mounting sense of dread that's almost Hitchcockian. Later episodes prove to be just as effective.

As good as he is from a technical standpoint, what makes Villeneuve so effective is how he prioritizes story and performance over everything else, and working from a gritty script by former Sons of Anarchy-star Taylor Sheridan, SICARIO proves to be a stunning showcase for Emily Blunt and co-star Benicio del Toro. This is the perfect follow-up for Blunt to EDGE OF TOMORROW in that it continues her evolution into a grittier kind of heroine, although she's far more vulnerable here as an agent who's green enough that she still believes in the notion of good guys and bad guys. Along with her law-school grad partner (a very effective Daniel Kaluuya – who readers may remember from the Black Mirror episode 'Fifteen Million Merits'), she's our moral compass throughout, and Blunt's humanity and fear in the face of the escalating violence keeps her as a kind of de-facto surrogate for the audience.

As good as she is though, SICARIO can't help but belong to del Toro. Playing a dapper, middle-aged former prosecutor from Columbia turned merciless gunman working against the cartels, he's by far the most complex character, suggesting a formerly upstanding diplomat who, when faced with unspeakable brutality, became a kind of animal himself, willing to go to any lengths to accomplish his mission. I don't know that del Toro's ever had a better role, and in a way this feels like a kind of follow-up to his Oscar-winning turn in TRAFFIC, where we see the tragic dividends his stance against the cartels paid-off in. His chemistry with Blunt, who he possibly sees shred of his former self-in, is understated but incredibly effective, and the method-like intensity he brings to the action sequences is on the level of Pacino/De Niro in Michael Mann's HEAT.

The supporting cast is also incredibly solid, with Brolin embellishing his government operative with a uniquely laid-back personality that feels fresh and unexpected. Rather than bark orders, he's happier joking around between naps while wearing sandals, even his his gregariousness seems like a deliberate tactic. Burn Notice's Jeffrey Donovan has a great little part as a bespectacled, mustachioed operative, while Jon Bernthal has an outstanding cameo that leads to one of the movie's best set-pieces.

With SICARIO, Denis Villeneuve's built on the massive promise he showed with his last few films, and proves once again that's he's among the best directors of his generation. SICARIO is a lean, mean little masterpiece of the action-thriller genre and easily the best thing I've seen since FURY ROAD. It's my first film of TIFF 2015, but I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it turned out to be the best.

Check out the Video Movie Review below!

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Source: JoBlo.com

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12:11PM on 10/07/2015
Film is just perfect. 10/10.
Film is just perfect. 10/10.
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+1
12:59AM on 10/07/2015
Fantastic. Loved it. Loved Blunt, del Toro and Brolin in it.
Fantastic. Loved it. Loved Blunt, del Toro and Brolin in it.
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7:30PM on 10/04/2015
Film of the year (in my opinion). Absolute masterpiece and instant classic.
Film of the year (in my opinion). Absolute masterpiece and instant classic.
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4:46PM on 10/02/2015
I think you mean DP Roger Deakins not Jenkins...

So very ready for this movie.
I think you mean DP Roger Deakins not Jenkins...

So very ready for this movie.
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4:24PM on 10/01/2015

I have to say...

I thought Blunt was fantastic, but in terms of strong female characters, I don't really feel her character is quite up there with the best, not even with her Edge of Tomorrow character. She's pretty much the wet behind the ears naive idealist do-gooder as opposed to the morally questionable characters that Del Toro and Brolin got to play.
I thought Blunt was fantastic, but in terms of strong female characters, I don't really feel her character is quite up there with the best, not even with her Edge of Tomorrow character. She's pretty much the wet behind the ears naive idealist do-gooder as opposed to the morally questionable characters that Del Toro and Brolin got to play.
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1:21AM on 10/02/2015
I don't think that accurately describes her. She was very capable in the movie and even led her own team. I think she reacted appropriately for the position she was put in. She was very by the books, as many like her would be. She was put into a situation she wasn't given the information and what she found out was beyond why she participated. It wasn't so much that she was a do-gooder as she was expected to go along with something that was clearly not on the level. It's hard to expect anyone to
I don't think that accurately describes her. She was very capable in the movie and even led her own team. I think she reacted appropriately for the position she was put in. She was very by the books, as many like her would be. She was put into a situation she wasn't given the information and what she found out was beyond why she participated. It wasn't so much that she was a do-gooder as she was expected to go along with something that was clearly not on the level. It's hard to expect anyone to go down the road she was forced to. And she certainly demonstrated her performance capabilities several times throughout the movie.
12:53PM on 10/01/2015
I think critics are not doing this film any favor by praising it so much as I think a lot of people will be disappointed once they realize it's a drama/thriller and NOT an action movie. It is much closer to Jarhead in pace and I'm amazed Fury Road is even mentioned in the same article. It is far from being a bad film, but it certainly is not a masterpiece! Be prepared for a relatively slow paced movie with only one or two real action scenes (the highway scene) and an underwhelming ending. The
I think critics are not doing this film any favor by praising it so much as I think a lot of people will be disappointed once they realize it's a drama/thriller and NOT an action movie. It is much closer to Jarhead in pace and I'm amazed Fury Road is even mentioned in the same article. It is far from being a bad film, but it certainly is not a masterpiece! Be prepared for a relatively slow paced movie with only one or two real action scenes (the highway scene) and an underwhelming ending. The music, acting, cinematography and editing are great, but not the script. Now you're warned...
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1:51PM on 10/01/2015
I don't think anyone has any beliefs that it's an ACTION movie. It is pretty self evident that its a drama/thriller. Maybe to your amateur film eyes you may think it's an action movie. But everyone else is alright.
I don't think anyone has any beliefs that it's an ACTION movie. It is pretty self evident that its a drama/thriller. Maybe to your amateur film eyes you may think it's an action movie. But everyone else is alright.
3:26PM on 10/01/2015
Why can't people on this website just be nice to one another? What's so god damn hard?! I'm just giving my opinion on a movie (which I enjoyed), not on your fucking mom for christ's sake. Seriously man, how old are you? I've been watching and scrutinizing hundreds of movies a year for the last 25 years of my life... you don't know me. You may be very knowledgeable too but right now you sound like a teenager who can't deal with the fact that some people don't follow critic's opinions like
Why can't people on this website just be nice to one another? What's so god damn hard?! I'm just giving my opinion on a movie (which I enjoyed), not on your fucking mom for christ's sake. Seriously man, how old are you? I've been watching and scrutinizing hundreds of movies a year for the last 25 years of my life... you don't know me. You may be very knowledgeable too but right now you sound like a teenager who can't deal with the fact that some people don't follow critic's opinions like sheeps. It also sounds like you didn't read as he did say "masterpiece of the action-thriller genre " while putting it on the same level as Fury Road. Learn that you don't have to disrespect people to express your disapproval of something. Thanks and I hope you'll enjoy the movie for what it is.
2:45AM on 10/15/2015
For what it's worth I totally agree with your opinion on the film. Some tense moments and an excellent film good acting etc however the trailers are promising something that it's not. It is a slow burn and there is nothing wrong with that but I suspect that mainstream audiences may be a tad disappointed given the marketing.
For what it's worth I totally agree with your opinion on the film. Some tense moments and an excellent film good acting etc however the trailers are promising something that it's not. It is a slow burn and there is nothing wrong with that but I suspect that mainstream audiences may be a tad disappointed given the marketing.
+1
12:38PM on 10/01/2015
I walked out of Prisoners blown away. A smart well crafted Hollywood movie. Who knew!! After Prisoners, Denis has been at the top of my watch list. Cant wait to see this this weekend.
I walked out of Prisoners blown away. A smart well crafted Hollywood movie. Who knew!! After Prisoners, Denis has been at the top of my watch list. Cant wait to see this this weekend.
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+0
2:16PM on 09/10/2015
Really looking forward to this. Wasn't expecting a 10, but that is great news. This looks like an excellent film, even if I'm not all that big a fan of Blunt.
Really looking forward to this. Wasn't expecting a 10, but that is great news. This looks like an excellent film, even if I'm not all that big a fan of Blunt.
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6:38PM on 10/01/2015
Ahhh it was you with her 'Mean Tweet'
Ahhh it was you with her 'Mean Tweet'
10:39AM on 09/10/2015

Wow.

10/10? Will have to check this out. Prisoners and Enemy were both amazing, so I'm definitely pumped for this.
10/10? Will have to check this out. Prisoners and Enemy were both amazing, so I'm definitely pumped for this.
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11:49AM on 09/10/2015
Prisoners was absolutely unbelievable. Enemy....not so much
Prisoners was absolutely unbelievable. Enemy....not so much
1:52PM on 09/10/2015
The_ConMan, point taken. I can see how you didn't enjoy Enemy [I did], but we both agree on Prisoners.
The_ConMan, point taken. I can see how you didn't enjoy Enemy [I did], but we both agree on Prisoners.
+2
6:34AM on 09/10/2015
Am glad she is doing more action stuff. She even smacked Cruise off the screen.
Am glad she is doing more action stuff. She even smacked Cruise off the screen.
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4:36AM on 09/10/2015

French Canadian Directors...

wow, 10/10, cannot be more impatient to see it ! (was already in my most anticipated movie list)
In a little time, Denis Villeneuve and Jean Marc Vallée had become the directors the most exciting around !
wow, 10/10, cannot be more impatient to see it ! (was already in my most anticipated movie list)
In a little time, Denis Villeneuve and Jean Marc Vallée had become the directors the most exciting around !
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11:45PM on 09/09/2015
Extremely excited for this one. Three of my favorite actors, and the trailers absolutely remind me of Michael Mann, but I couldn't put my finger on it until now.
Extremely excited for this one. Three of my favorite actors, and the trailers absolutely remind me of Michael Mann, but I couldn't put my finger on it until now.
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11:22PM on 09/09/2015
"SICARIO is a lean, mean little masterpiece of the action-thriller genre and easily the best thing I've seen since FURY ROAD."

I was already excited to see this, but this line has put my anticipation so much higher for it. Can't wait.
"SICARIO is a lean, mean little masterpiece of the action-thriller genre and easily the best thing I've seen since FURY ROAD."

I was already excited to see this, but this line has put my anticipation so much higher for it. Can't wait.
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9:53PM on 09/09/2015
I really want to see this. I think at this point I'll see anything that Blunt is in.
I really want to see this. I think at this point I'll see anything that Blunt is in.
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9:24PM on 09/09/2015
Wow, 10/10 for an action movie? I'm so going to watch this movie.
Wow, 10/10 for an action movie? I'm so going to watch this movie.
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