SICARIO (2015)


An F.B.I. agent is recruited to join a government task force set up to fight the war on drugs in Juarez, Mexico and at the Mexican/U.S. border. A Sicario is a hired assassin.

When Nixon began the official ‘War on Drugs’ in the 1960’s, one would hope that he wasn’t aware of the true cost of this phony war. Hundreds of thousands have died because of it and the death toll doesn’t seem to be abating.

Denis Villeneuve follows his excellent Enemy with this film about the horrific consequences of fighting in such an unwinnable war. As long as these drugs are outlawed by America and the rest of the world the killing will continue. A serious dialogue needs to happen. The war is clearly not working; fifty years on and no sign of any end in sight.
He gives us a tale that eschews deep character development in favour of the bigger picture, but don’t be fooled, this technique works brilliantly by allowing the viewer to be drawn into this crazy, lawless world.

Emily Blunt plays Kate Macer, an F.B.I. special agent who is recruited by Josh Brolin’s Matt Graver, an agent who may not be who he initially appears to be and the great Benicio Tel Toro plays Alejandro, another member of the team whose story will be revealed in due course. Another Brit, Daniel Kaluuya plays Reggie Wayne, Macer’s F.B.I. partner and does a stellar job. Victor Garber is Dave Jennings, Macer’s boss and here, as usual he delivers a sturdy performance. And finally we have Jon Bernthal who, fortunately, is not featured massively. The long term readers of The Movie Musings will know how I feel about this actor, to précis, he acts too much, seems too aware of the camera and tics harder than a tic-tac-toe player on speed. Nuff said. Bernthal aside, everyone brings their A-game to a story that is both important and necessary. Sure, there have been many films about the Mexican Cartel already but if a story or a subject is worth investigating it’s probably worth telling again. Having just watched Narcos on Netflix this subject matter was interesting to me and Villeneuve gives us a different take on it. Here, he also spends time with the victims of this crazy war and seems much more sympathetic to their plight than the usual Hollywood pro-American stance.

Emily Blunt’s character is basically representing the audience in this piece; she gets to know what’s happening when we do, which makes this all the more exciting for the viewer. She plays a by-the-book agent and when thrust into this chaotic, unpredictable world she finds her morals and ideals compromised, as there really are no black and white solutions in this world. Grey areas are much more thought-provoking than tying things all up in a neat little bow.

Jóhann Jóhannsson delivers a killer soundtrack that is all atmosphere and greatly adds to the unsettling nature of the film.

On the subject of his score he says:
“I wanted to create music that had an underlying tension and a sense of coming from below the earth, like a throbbing pulse that resonates from underground or the pounding heartbeat of a wild beast that is charging at you. I also wanted to evoke the sadness and melancholy of the border, the border fences and the tragedy of the drug war.”

He succeeds massively creating this dark, brooding score that helps embed us, as onlookers, in the story, helped along by the screenwriting duties of actor, Taylor Sheridan.

I highly recommend this intelligent take on the effects of the war on drugs in America. Villeneuve is a director of weight and substance and as he has signed up to direct the new Blade Runner project, it may be worth a look.





This is a prime example of a Hollywood action film; big star, big budget, Hollywood director, Doug Liman, great writers-Christopher McQuarrie, Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, yet it still manages to fail as a decent film.

C.G.I. and actors or C.G.I. actors.

People talk about the fear of not needing actors in the not-too-distant future, as they will be digitally recreated and replaced, well, Tom Cruise is that in real life; a digital, computer generation, Soul-less, although not in a ‘he sold his sold to L. Ron’ or anything so philosophically placed or even anything that could be seen as an inherent evil, devoid of morality, more in the sense of a computer generated character that is not that well-realised, a bot, without the capacity to really feel human emotions or at least re-enact them in an honest, truthful, vulnerable way.

This is my problem with the Cruise-ster, it is that he hides.

Any great actor has the ability to portray real human emotion and to do this usually needs to tap into something truthful within themselves; the greats effortlessly allow the audience into their souls. A computer generated character has no soul and thus, can-not truly replicate the essence of this.

That is why I have a problem with T.C.. He hides.

The one time he truly opened up was for Paul Thomas Anderson and he was lauded for his performance and then on to the next one……back to basics.

There is always a wall surrounding him on screen and that, is not interesting to watch, in order to compensate he surrounds himself with actors of great depth and acclaim as if this will give him kudos by association. The robotic facial and body movement indicating sadness, joy, pain etc is just not believable, but look, there’s an actor of depth to offset the vacuity of the robot, and look at these effects/stunts/dramatics, they are bigger than the star, so enjoy and be stultified into ignorance and the usual opiated state. “Wow, that was a big film”. It will make a lot of money, it is a business after all and if you get a nod from the critics, then cool, but that is NOT why most of the industry are there. Dolla, dolla bill, yo.

So, I get it. It’s just a shame more people aren’t aware of the wool being pulled over the eyes of the consumer. The spectacular spectacle. Blinded by the lights. The ultimate magician’s mis-direct. Give the people what they think they want and they will come in masses and give over their hard earned monies to be part of it.

I get it, I just don’t like it and for years now I have shirked the Hollywood system, as much as I can. Hey, I love a big budget blockbuster when they’re done well as much as the next viewer, but do most of them have to be dumb? Apparently so.

I started hearing “I don’t want to have to think, I just want to be entertained” around the time that reality tv started kicking off and my question was always “what’s wrong with something that makes you think?”

Hell, you can be entertained and think at the same time, look at The Usual Suspects, Twelve Angry Men, all smart films that were both critically and commercially successful.

I think the problem is not that the execs don’t want that, it’s more the fact that they don’t know how to get it, less confidence in the artists and more in the suits

This is a film with all flourish and no pay off. Like Inception, it purports to be something greater than it actually is. It’s basically wearing glasses to try and make itself look more intelligent, but we see through the ruse, don’t we people?

Don’t we? C’mon, join the revolution and shirk these nonsensical, charlatanical, big shiny box/small, shitty presents.

A waste of time.

On a more positive note, the best thing in it was the soldier who gets to kick T.C. when he re-awakens with an “On your feet, maggot.” Played by Terence Maynard, this was a character I would have liked to see more of. Emily Blunt is rooted in her realty and is believable. Brendan Gleeson is getting paid to using his phone, Bill Paxton is also on the phone. The premise is great but the narrative is very messy at times, we’re just expected to be on board, well, I’m hitting the emergency stop. No more…… more.