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Movies Review: Sicario

Witness the horror beyond the border in Sicario. Image used from nerdunion.us

Witness the horror beyond the border in Sicario. Image used from nerdunion.us

During this most auspicious month so many of us will indulge ourselves in the horror genre and witness the bloody mayhem of ghosts, witches, zombies and masked killers who have risen from the grave for the tenth time. With so much to choose from, it’s easy to forget that the most terrifying form of horror isn’t some slathering monster or demon but rather the violence, cruelty and sadism of our fellow man and no film this year has exemplified that horror more then Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario.

The story for Sicario is enthralling and horrific from the very start. The story follows Kate Macer, an FBI agent who’s drawn into a mission with the CIA to take down a Cartel kingpin with the help of mysterious spook Alejandro. What drew me in so quickly with the story was the visceral and macabre opening where Macer finds a house that has dozens of bloodied bodies stuffed into the framework. It’s a truly unsettling scene but only the tip of  very large iceberg. Villeneuve does an excellent job of creating an atmosphere thick with dread and despair as mutilated bodies hang from buildings and the only soundtrack used in the scenes of Juarez is gun fire in the distance. Villeneuve builds this atmosphere throughout the film which in turn made the film more and more tense as it progressed. What’s really fascinating is the most disturbing and dreadful things that happen are things we never see. Sure the mutilated bodies that hang are horrific but we can only imagine what had happened. There are certain deaths that aren’t shown and in doing so those unseen deaths seem to rob the humanity from the killer. As the film goes on the conflicting ideals of Macer and the CIA continuously butt heads and after a while it becomes more difficult to choose who to side with. Macer is more idealistic and is shocked by what she sees and what she’s being used for while Graver, the CIA liaison, is unfeeling to his violent and underhanded actions. For so much of the film I sided with Graver feeling that to beat the Cartel you had to be dirty and underhanded but the last moment of this film made me stop and think about that and I haven’t stopped thinking even as I write this review. The ending, as short and sudden as it was, hit me hard like a punch in the stomach and I found myself to be as conflicted as Macer. One final thing that had made the story so interesting was a subplot involving a police officer and his morning with his wife and son. it seemed pointless, not having anything to do immediately with the story but by the third act it made sense. Let’s just say that without this subplot the officer would be just another nameless character we have no feelings for and I applaud Villeneuve for this subplot and what he did.

The characters for Sicario are engaging and deep.

For so much of the film I found myself annoyed by Macer. Since I initially sided with Graver’s actions I felt that Macer’s by the book nature was more of a “goody two shoes” type who sees themselves as above everything else. It had felt like she was willing to jeopardize a mission that is meant to bring down a very bad man all so she could follow the rules like a good little agent. But by the film’s end I thought back to everything Macer did and believed in and seeing what Graver and the CIA were willing to do I realized that maybe that goody two shoes attitude was the right way of thinking all along.

Graver is an interesting character. He’s very cruel and uncaring, though these traits are played subtly, but what makes him so interesting is how charming and morbidly humorous he can be. Even after all he did I think back to any line of dialogue and smile with the dark humor of it all.

Alejandro is a very engaging and enigmatic character. It’s clear from the start that Alejandro is on a mission of vengeance and it doesn’t take long to figure out what kind of person he is. But with what little we’re told of his past makes him sympathetic and I found myself wanting to know more about how he found himself becoming the man he is now. What makes Alejandro more interesting is that clearly this is his story he’s the true main character of the film yet we’re led to believe that it’s Macer. By the third act this is clearly not the case as it becomes apparent that Macer is only along for the ride.

Acting for Sicario is strong.

Emily Blunt gives a fine performance as Macer though she isn’t given much to do for the most part. While with Graver and Alejandro, Blunt takes a back seat and her finest moments in the film are when she’s away from what’s happening and is able to give a very human and entertaining performance.

Josh Brolin is very similar to his character. He manages to give a very menacing performance but throughout he is very charming and darkly funny. His light nature and even the way he dresses clashes with his character’s violent and cruel schemes and because of this Brolin gives a disturbingly enjoyable performance.

Benicio del Toro is the true show stealer here. del Toro is engaging throughout and puts so much effort into every little thing he does. He brings his character to life and his enthralling performance only made me want to see more and know more of this character through every single haunting moment.

Final Thoughts: Sicario is one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever seen in theaters and it does it all without jump scares of monsters but with the violent horrors of reality. The story is unsettling and disturbing throughout and had me thinking about every detail until the end and that had only caused me to think some more. The characters are deep and layered with some developing wonderfully throughout and others being horrific in what they do. The performances are strong and engaging and help bring these great characters to life. Overall Sicario is a nightmarish and haunting film that needs to be seen on the big screen to truly feel the dread and horror at its best. It’s easily one fo the best films of the year and without a doubt will be the scariest film you’ll see this October.

Verdict: 5/5

About the Author

Good day to you, my name is Jonathan Gonzalez. For years I’ve loved movies and have been reviewing them for years, ever since I first saw Roger Ebert on Ebert and Roeper during my freshman year of high school for the first time. I am a graduate of Mercy College with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and I have Asperger’s Syndrome, something I am truly proud of.

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