Sicario (2015)
October 17, 2015 12:47 PM - Subscribe

An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.

Villeneuve has also made Enemy and Prisoners.
posted by starman (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As soon as she was given the answer "The El Paso area..." to her question "Where are we going?", I assumed they were going to Juarez, and I was a bit nonplussed at her later surprise.

I was legitimately shocked that the Dynamic Duo weren't executed in the desert.

Well executed movie, and extremely well shot, but thoroughly depressing after spending some time in the Valley.
posted by Seeba at 2:28 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Actually, come to think of it, during the movie there were a couple of amusingly "welllllllll, you might could've seen this coming..." moments that made me chuckle inappropriately.

"What're we lookin' at for ROE?"
"Tell ya' later"
"So, what've we got for ROE?"
"Weapons free. Go."
posted by Seeba at 2:31 PM on October 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I loved the score, thought the cinematography was tops, thought the acting was fine, especially Josh Brolin, and MAN did this movie depress the hell out of me! I hope this is the same team that puts together the new Blade Runner because I think Villeneuve can nail the gloom and claustrophobic depressive atmosphere.

Pretty fine movie overall. Sobering, though.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:56 PM on October 17, 2015

I kind of have mixed feelings about this movie: on the one hand, it's basically Emily Blunt getting her ass kicked for about two hours, for basically no good reason; on the other hand, it is a fantastic illustration of the insanity of the drug war in its present state, and the build towards the realization that Emily Blunt's character was in over her head right from the beginning (and by design) was very well constructed.

Benicio del Toro was excellent as usual, and the music and sound design were both outstanding. There was some excellent cinematography as well, particularly the aerial stuff; and the cutting between the night vision and IR representing different POVs was really innovative. There was also a shot with one of the Delta guys silhouetted against the tunnel opening that was straight-up FW Murnau.

If I sat on the Ciudad Juarez chamber of commerce, I might consider suing, though.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:58 PM on October 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm still a little confused about why, specifically, they needed the FBI (specifically, Emily Blunt) involved. Surely, if they were going to be operating so out of bounds, having the signature of a fairly low-level agent wouldn't do a whole lot for them? And why did they let her partner in at all?

I knew from the moment we saw the police officer's adorable child that he was going to be dead by the end of the movie, though, and I'm not really sure what having that cliche did for the film.

But man, I loved this. The music and cinematography were fantastic, particularly that shot of everyone walking into the tunnel. And I did really like having Emily Blunt as the out of her depth heroine. She's great.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:09 AM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

It was sort of Training Day meets Traffic. It gets points for not being a typical Hollywood script, but at the same time, as mentioned above, the it does awkwardly telegraph a lot of little things.
Agree with the cinematography — I didn't know going in that it was Roger Deakins. Pleasant surprise.
The border crossing sequence was probably my favorite. Not sure the rest of the movie lived up to it.
The end didn't do much for me. When he was holding the gun to her, I never really felt like she was in peril. If she is really going to "tell" on them, she doesn't have to tell Josh Brolin first. She should just do it.
Also, props to Benicio's breaking-into-apartment skills. He'd be good at Metal Gear.
posted by starman at 8:04 AM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

As far as I could tell, inviting Emily Blunt along helped to legally legitimize their uh, mission in some way. They didn't actually need her to do anything beyond be a warm body in the vicinity, which is pretty much why they treated her as such through the whole thing.

What a weird, depressing movie. Interesting ah, false lead setup they had there, but other than that....yeah, it is pretty much Emily Blunt feeling awful for 2 hours while terrible things happen.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:43 AM on October 18, 2015

on the one hand, it's basically Emily Blunt getting her ass kicked for about two hours, for basically no good reason

It may not be a good reason, but I appreciated that it illustrated how just because someone's there and is accustomed to being heroic, it doesn't mean she gets to be the hero of this story... and I think the biggest (or most effective) reveal was that it's not her story at all. You can make all the right moves and still end up in a situation where you get absorbed into an evil machine and just have to live with yourself. No Hollywood ending here!
posted by psoas at 9:17 AM on October 19, 2015 [11 favorites]

I very much enjoyed this movie, especially the way it brutally demonstrated what a self-perpetuating clusterfu*k the so-called drug war has perhaps become (and maybe always was). Now the "war" seems to be all about letting some high testosterone types from a virtual alphabet soup of federal and state agencies get paid to swing their dicks. But, hey, at least some highly-trained former soldiers have a way to keep their skills fresh over in this hemisphere.

I thought the soundtrack was used in a powerful, suspense-building way that I would liken to The Dark Knight, and the outdoor cinematography was amazing. I could see Oscar nominations on both fronts.

The only thing I didn't care for was Emily Blunt's character. She seemed to me too gullible and earnest to be believable for someone in her line of work in 2015, and I'm not sure I get the point of having a woman specifically used as a stalking horse in such a perilous project. Perhaps that's a common occurrence for women in law enforcement? Anyway, she had some great physical reflexes, at least whenever she would finally buy a clue that she was in imminent danger.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:35 AM on October 24, 2015

We had a child-free night last night and chose to expend it on this, I wasn't disappointed.

Gorgeous cinematography, not just in Deakin's typically beautiful compositions (how about those arial shots and that gorgeous fade-to-black as they get ready to go into the tunnel), but the languorous tracking shots and lingering takes. Mad props to the editor, John Walker as well, esp in the border crossing. Lovely work, true craft.

The score was appropriately menacing too. I thought Blunt was terrific, I love that she didn't overact. Indeed, overacting seemed confined to Brolin, who pushed it just a little too far I thought - though he was clearly enjoying the role. Del Toro, I think can get a little scenery-chewy, but he kept it under control well here, though I think his ultimate scene at the dinner could have been elided to no great loss.

I like that the movie worked on a surface level as a generic thriller, but when analysed visually, actually has a subtext as well, not a complex one, but it works.

Has anyone watched Villeneuve's other films? I was put off Prisoners because of it's fucking moronic-sounding storyline and I presumed it valorises vigilanteism.
posted by smoke at 10:22 PM on October 24, 2015

Ooo, and another thing. I liked that acting and script were relatively restrained. I think part of Blunt's appeal for me in general is that she rarely (like in Love, Actually, yuck) overacts. The movie didn't feel the need to spell out everything, to its credit.

Indeed, when it veers towards spelling out, I felt like it was noticeably weaker (Brolin's explantory speech when confronted by Blunt, for example).
posted by smoke at 10:24 PM on October 24, 2015

Has anyone watched Villeneuve's other films? I was put off Prisoners because of it's fucking moronic-sounding storyline and I presumed it valorises vigilanteism.

Prisoners is a major mess but fun to watch with friends in an extremely-convoluted-bad-movie kind of way.

Enemy is kind of a surreal psychological thriller. Moody and a bit open-ended. A lot of symbolism. Sort of the same style as Under the Skin. It's worth checking out if you like those kind of movies. Watch the trailer but try to avoid learning too much about it.
posted by starman at 1:43 PM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

The disappointments here were way too distracting for me to really enjoy the good and novel parts of this movie. The pro forma state police officer subplot (the sense of "see we DO care about the people on the other side of the border!!" being ultimately more insulting than a straight omission), the narrative lack of focus, and most of all the cheap deployment of all the standard Drug War tropes about Mexico being primarily a lawless land of horrors. The movie cared about as much about the mutilated bodies hanging from overpasses as that asshole with glasses in the front seat during the Juarez mission did. They're really only related by setting and the fact that Josh Brolin crosses the Bridge of the Americas in both, but at least No Country For Old Men acknowledges its similar treatment of Mexico by mythologizing its antagonist and pinning that treatment heavily on the fact that our fears are our own, and we'll dress them in whatever clothes happen to be at hand. This movie, on the other hand, really wants to make the case that this is how it really is, and that's pretty insulting.
posted by invitapriore at 3:40 PM on January 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I just saw it on a flight home from Mexico (WTF was this on the movie list for that route?).

Like invitapriore above, I had a lot of trouble with this movie. I thought it was frustratingly ambiguous about Del Toro's actions, maybe not quite as aggravating as the fairly naked pro-torture 24, but close. Juarez was certainly depicted as an over-the-top as a lawless murder zone, but it is pretty damn over-the-top there*.

The scene with the gun to Blunt's head forcing her to sign a document I found head-shaking. Why would her coerced signature be a damn bit better than a nicely forged one? Why would Del Toro's character care? He's just going to fade into the blackness like people of his ilk do.

* in thinking about Juarez, I ended up reading the wikipedia page on it, and the murder rate went from worst-in-the-world in 2010 to < 10% of that in 2015, a matter they attribute to the same "Medillin" idea of cartel dominance = peace portrayed in the film. F I don't know. Mexico doesn't deserve what it's gone through.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:37 AM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

This film was visually and aurally stunning, but it had a bit of idiot plot going on. Kate Macer was no doubt the absolute worst person for this job. Inexperienced, moralistic, questioning authority and inflexible about rules and procedures is not the best for a high-stakes international mission to take down a cartel boss.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:29 PM on July 25, 2021

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