Sicario

Noah Vosen: We are the sharp end of the stick now, Pam…

That was said in the CIA Operational HQ in Manhattan, by Noah Vosen, in the 2007 film The Bourne Ultimatum. Vosen was talking to Pamela Landy. And he said more:

No more red tape. No more getting the bad guys caught on our sights, then watching them escape while we wait for somebody in Washington to issue the order.

And that was just the beginning. From there we film goers went on to Zero Dark Thirty, and the a 4th Bourne film. Now we have Sicario. The government follows no rules, and does what it wants to accomplish its goals.

Legal or not. Morally justifiable or not. They don’t really care.

Yes, there are things like Rules of Engagement but these are more operationally based than concerned with legality. And while we all know, or assume that the CIA may not work on US soil, there are ways around that too. As FBI Agent Kate Macer found out in the new film Sicario.

Macer is played by Emily Blunt – and she’s great in a difficult role. Yeah, she has to break down doors and fill people up with lead as a part of her job. She heads up a kidnap recapture unit and she was working in and around Phoenix, AZ. After they busted into a home in the prominent Phoenix suburb of Chandler, and found that this was a home whose walls were lined with more than a few dozen corpses, which was followed by a huge explosion – a drug lab, or a weapons cache, or money safe room had been wired to detonate if the wrong people tried to enter. Macer lost two men from her detail. Al that was left was a huge crater

This was a sobering revelation – the drug trade was more than just about users in the USA. Or US dollars flowing out of the country to drug lords who ran cartels in other countries. In addition to that, now drugs were made, sold, and defended right there in a tony Phoenix burb. Before she can even leave the scene, she meets another government agent Matt Graver, who asks her to accompany him to a meeting at the FBI HQ in Phoenix.

The aftermath is that she’s asked to volunteer for a cross-agency mission, It’s all very hush-hush, but Macer agrees and volunteers. Because she’s told she’ll get a chance at the ‘people really responsible for what went down today’. Before she knows it, she’s driven out to Luke AFB, (wait for the moment when you see the impressive row after row of Apache Attack Helicopters) and shortly thereafter, she’s on a plane with Graver and another shadowy dude called Alejandro. Alejandro doesn’t say much, and before he drops off to sleep, Graver tells Macer that they’re heading to El Paso.

She knows nothing else.

When they get to El Paso, Macer meets Graver’s team – The Zero Dark Thirty guys had nothing on this crew. They suit up, they don their vests, and with their impressive armaments and gear, they really do look bad-ass.  Soon the cavalcade rolls on toward Juarez. Mexico.

What’s the mission?

They’re going to pick a guy up and bring him back to El Paso for ‘questioning’. They bypass all the border delays and check points, as their caravan of five black Chevy Suburbans is simply waved through. Once in Ciudad Juarez, they add on an escort of six pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns. These are manned by the Mexican Policia Federales. They make their way to either a Mexican Police HQ or a jail, and they soon have their man.

But getting out won’t be as easy as getting in was.

So begins Sicario. Sicario means hitman in Mexico, as well as Columbia. This is a terrific action thriller. When you factor in the camera work, the direction, the musical score, and the fantastic acting – they all add up to making this an edge of your seat, white knuckle, thriller. There’s action galore, and even more important, there’s enough fear, dread and tension to frighten anyone. Besides that,  the film comes off as realistic,and gritty.

Did I mention exciting?

Then, when you add in the moral dilemma facing Macer – you can see how well-developed this film really is. Blunt’s Macer is tough as nails – but she’s by the book; she truly has a moral center. When it finally dawns on her as to what she’s actually signed up for, she’s not a happy camper.

Blunt carries her worries, and her problems right out there where everyone can see them – but that doesn’t stop her from doing what she thinks she must.

Josh Brolin as Graver, along with Macer carry the first half of the film. Brolin’s Graver is a Company Man, a spook, a shadow ghost, and the way he plays it – he’s the major source of levity in the film. He’s serious, in fact deadly serious about his work – but that doesn’t mean he can’t also be laid-back and get off some funny lines here and there.

But the latter part of the film belongs solely to Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro. He’s not only strong and silent, he’s also driven. He’s the Sicario referenced by the film’s title.

When Macer asks Graver – Who is this guy, who does he work for? She’s told – Alejandro works for whoever needs him, for whoever will pay him, and for whoever will give him the opportunity he wants.

When Macer asks Alejandro about something, he replies – You ask how the watch is made. [Instead] Keep your eye on the time.

When Macer says to Alejandro – You’re not American? Who do you work for now?,  he replies, Oh, I go where I’m sent. Yeah, he’s a mysterious guy. But there will be a reveal about him. A  big reveal.

I’m calling this film a sure-fire hit. I see an Oscar for Sound Design and/or Musical Direction at minimum. I’d also not be surprised if Director Denis Villeneuve, copped an Oscar nom for film direction too.

All of the cast was simply terrific. Don’t miss this film, I’m scoring it at four point five.

Check out the trailer:

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One thought on “Sicario

  1. Good review Mike. Very tense and exciting, but at the same time, still spoke about a lot of honest issues that made it more than just another thriller.

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