Film review: Sicario (2015)

EmilySicario (2015)

“Homeland” (Showtime cable TV) mind melded with Jack Bauer (“24”) all spot-landed at the Mexican/American border.

I had actually not planned to review this film as it didn’t get much notice and this was just a boring Saturday afternoon with everyone out of town but me. However, I was spellbound absorbing the blistering tale of the politics of revenge, the value of human life and the creative methods of saving/taking it.

Emily Blunt is superb as the otherwise idealistic FBI field agent, expertly trained in the tactics of drug interdiction, but by the book. She’s drawn into a densely woven strategy to do whatever is needed to take out a major drug kingpin. By “whatever is needed”, I mean no rules, no boundaries and no convention in an escapade run by very, very focused special-ops guys with varying rational for their actions.

This interestingly brings up the role of women in special-ops.

Recently, women were allowed to undergo U.S. Army Ranger training at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Three candidates successfully completed this incredibly intense training. I say more power to them. If they can hack it, they absolutely deserve to wear the black & gold patch as well as anyone else.

But there’s a “Catch-22”. Technically they are Rangers with all the rights & privileges but they are not allowed (yet) into “real” combat situations. It still remains unclear how they would function in a really nasty combat situation, no matter how well they trained for it. Training isn’t the real thing and they are different breeds of cat.

Women (females) are wired for nurturing and to some degree “rules following”. Through history, there are very few steely-eyed female killers; most of it involving sex in some fashion. Emily Blunt was thrown into a situation where she was well trained for her job here but in the clinch she backed off when faced with real steely-eyed killers in situations where the traditional rules of engagement weren’t being followed. Unclear if this is because of female hard-wiring or just individual taste. Unknown to the military as well.

So several interesting issues explored in this excellent film. The traditional rules-of-engagement for dealing with drug cartels are said to be about as effective as emptying an ocean with a teaspoon. The cartel leaders have no rules and so our rules simply hamper the effort to curtail them. The film suggests that if we are to really put a dent in the drug cartels, it will be necessary to simply play dirty, Jack Bauer-style.

That will, of course, require players that possibly have marginal interest in saving the world from drugs; more like having an interesting, adventurous career. Different species of players entirely and arguably “no place for a lady”. Is that the future of dealing with monsters? Do we have it right now and we just aren’t aware of it? After recent “leaks” of otherwise secret material, have they learned to hide it most effectively?

French-Canadian Director Denis Villeneuve creates extraordinary sets utilizing the amazing, color-saturated compositions of cinematographer Roger Deakins. The actors, Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and especially Benicio Del Toro are intense and impassioned. It’s an excellent, nail biting story line. It is Del Toro who holds the audience in a hushed but rigid grip, the embodiment of an action character. A study in which the concept of ethics becomes moot to obtain a righteous goal, and if course, what constitutes a righteous goal.

This is an impeccably well-crafted film, highly recommended by me.

Disclaimer: some intense and disturbing scenes.

I give this film four of five Josh Brolin salacious smirks.

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