A Revlock Review: SICARIO

Friday, October 2, 2015

Director Denis Villenueve's American Crime Thriller

By Tinsel & Tine Blog Contributor, Mikhail Revlock

In the opening minutes of SICARIO, a team of FBI agents plow their armored truck through the front wall of a suburban home, find a legion of plastic-covered corpses behind the drywall, and trigger a massive explosion. Though none of the subsequent set pieces pack as big a punch as the introduction, the ensuing film is a masterwork in sustained tension. This will come as no surprise to followers of Canadian director Denis Villenueve, who rose to international distinction on the strength of Incendies—scoring a nomination for Best Foreign Film at the 2010 Academy Awards—and proceeded to conquer the states with Prisoners in 2013.  Both features (not to mention his bizarre doppelganger mindbender Enemy) are soaked in dread and ambiguity. Alcon Entertainment has tapped him for the sequel to Blade Runner. If anyone can make magic with a long-gestating, seemingly superfluous follow-up to a sci-fi classic, it is Villenueve. (Or George Miller.) Do not go to Villenueve for comic relief, however. There is nothing light or playful about the director’s work. The drama is near-operatic in some instances. His world is peopled with infuriated men, hysterical women, and dire situations. Infidelity, child abduction, war crimes, incest and school shootings are just a few of his subjects.

In Sicario, he takes aim at the complex interplay of the United States, Mexico, and the illegal drug trade. In the service of this market, wives are murdered, children dropped in vats of acid. The city of Juarez is depicted as a criminal wasteland of lynched, beheaded bodies. Though FBI Agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is a seasoned hostage specialist, she is a novice when it comes to drug cartels. Nevertheless, her sterling performance during the raid convinces Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), a mysterious government official who wears flip-flops during meetings, that she would make a strong addition to his task force. She accepts the assignment without hesitation, driven by vengeance and curiosity.  The next day, she flies to Mexico in a private jet with Graver and the scruffy,cagey Alejandro (Benecio Del Toro). The jet raises red flags for Macer. Her suspicions are cemented by the ragtag group of grizzled biker types who comprise the remainder of the task force. From the early goings, it is evident that this band of drug crusaders is not on the up and up.

"Sicario" is the word for hit man in Spanish. The significance of the title does not sink in until the final act of the film when Blunt disappears for a stretch and Del Toro takes the lead. All three of the main actors do good work with somewhat underwritten parts, but Del Toro steals the show. He does not have many lines, and his face betrays few expressions, and yet his presence is immense. His grim stolidity is a good match for Villenueve, and provides the wounded heart that beats dimly beneath the grisly veneer of Sicario.

T &T's LAMB Score: 4 outta 5
Mikhail Revlock is a freelance journalist and fiction writer. His hobbies include bicycles, books, and food. A Philadelphia native, he lives in University City with his girlfriend and two cats. Be sure to check out past contributions: Interviews: "Dear White People" director Justin Simien and Kevin MacDonald "Black Sea". Reviews:  "American Sniper", "Beyond the Reach", "Run All Night", "Horrible Bosses" "Jupiter Ascending" Event: Insidious Chapter 3 4 D Experience

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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