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Sicario [DVD] 
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Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin star in this action thriller from director Denis Villeneuve. FBI agent Kate Macer (Blunt) is recruited by government official Matt Graver (Brolin) to join a team, led by mysterious consultant Alejandro (Del Toro), on a secret mission to bring down a drug lord in Mexico. The operation is fraught with danger and Kate finds herself forced to reconsider what she stands for as she tries to successfully complete the mission and make it out alive... The film was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Cinematography and Best Original Score (Jóhann Jóhannsson).
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[Later Addition: I saw his latest film, the 2016 'Arrival', in the cinema on release and found it to be highly impressive and crammed with emotional heartring 'pulls' - this director as clearly got something...]
Highly thought-provoking, it is full of tension/mystery and depicts the (hopefully fictitious) activities of a large number of US Government employees in a predominantly very bad light, as their attitudes are often bigoted and their acts, whether sanctioned or not, distinctly illegal and carried out with little regard for human rights.
*** This may be a cinematic thriller/drama 'experience' (and a VERY good one at that), but I feel that more emphasis than usual needs to be given to the plot and various storylines within since, as I've already hinted at, much is of a controversial nature.
I also think this fact is probably why many Amazon reviews are quite negative about the film....
Rather ominously, irrespective about how fictitious one feels they are, some of the main themes in this film have recently strayed into the realm of reality and current affairs....
On Blu-ray the presentation is flawless, sharp and has great detail/contrast (notably in the long periods of darkness) with a clear soundtrack that is often very active when the dramatic/imposing music is playing or the action at its height.
The Amazon synopsis for the film on this webpage describes things very well and even manages to avoid spoilers !
Whilst you should note that this film has a '15' viewing certificate, I am of the opinion that the violence/gore and, more importantly, the distasteful attitudes/acts of almost everyone in it merit it be given an '18' certificate - especially as it has the potential to instil attitudes amongst the impressionable that those Government employee bigoted attitudes and illegal/distasteful acts are in some warped way justified, since they are 'virtuous' ie fighting 'The War on Drugs'.....
The notable lead cast are uniformly excellent and there is also a very accomplished second-tier of performers - this allows you to immerse yourself into the slowly unfolding story and form the impression that the plot depicting the 'The War on Drugs', as 'fought' by the US, and associated attitudes/acts are entirely realistic.
This is despite the fact that they hopefully are entirely fictitious, since as I've already mentioned, there is an overwhelming depiction of wholly bigoted, overly brash, attitudes and acts of violence which show little regard for human rights and, for example, collateral damage.
We all know that a lot of what we see and hear probably has some relation to the truth and definitely that certain matters, especially those seen in Mexico (eg Drug Cartel executions, street violence and the general way the illegal drug trade operates), are valid. Having said that, that did not stop elements of the Mexican authorities from complaining about the way certain things were portrayed and calling for a 'boycott' of the film - but I note this was because they said things had now changed, rather than stating that those type if things never happened....
I have seen no similar official US reaction to the bad light shone on characters from their country, but that does not mean that their acts are 'true as such - after all, despite comments made by characters after one shootout, I am quite certain that if it had happened the way depicted we WOULD have heard about it in the media !
Notwithstanding those observations, as I had a long, quite recent, career in the military as a combatant and spent an appreciable, enlightening, time serving as an 'embedded' officer in a US force I am willing to accept that some fiction could be fact....When in the military I was involved in my fair share of combat, but am perfectly content about the legality of anything that I was ever directly involved in, feel that I always acted within 'The Laws of Armed Conflict' and have a correct appreciation for Human Rights, collateral damage etc - I cannot say the same for everyone else I worked with...
Irrespective of my own opinions and experiences, when one considers the following historical and often, unfortunately, current facts and attitudes (a lot originating from the 'doofus' George W Bush presidential era - and let's not forget 'Tricky Dicky' Cheney of course !) we can be clear that almost anything is possible :
1 - Gun 'culture' and justifiable 'self-defence' (aka defense).
2 - 'Rendition'.
3 - Capture/incarceration of 'combatants' (eg at Guantanamo Bay) without charge.
4 - Sanctioning and performing acts of torture.
- and to try and cover all the illegal aspects of drone operations, their weapon employment and resulting killings (whether it is discriminate or not) over foreign territory, with total disregard for permission or sanction by the host nation would expand this piece further still !!!
I read an article where the author made an observation about the US 'War on Drugs' with an apt statement : "turning us into the very monsters we are trying to defeat'; I couldn't have put it better.
*** Similarly, and as a conclusion to my coverage about the film plot and it's 'importance', note should be taken of VERY recent events in the Philippines, where the media reports police figures that about 1,800 drug-related killings have been recorded since President Rodrigo Duterte took office just weeks ago and launched a war on narcotics. Just as pertinent is the reaction from the US State Department, quoted that it was "deeply concerned" by the reports.....
The plot of 'Sicario' is depicted in an extremely competent manner as we witness many periods of discussion regarding theories and tactics etc, but more importantly an almost never-ending series of high-octane action sequences involving large numbers of (mostly) men in ferocious gunfights and the like.
Whilst the cast if almost entirely male, it should of course be noted that the essentially lead character is female (an excellent Emily Blunt, following on from her similarly outstanding performance in the excellent 'Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow'), BUT she cuts an even starker position of solitude since she is one of the few with any morals - and that is, in my opinion, a significant part of the plot foundation....
Many of the sets are expansive and the cinematography, courtesy of the accomplished Roger Deakins (usually responsible for Coen brother films, but also 'Skyfall' for example), is uniformly superb - the multitude of nighttime action scenes are particularly well filmed; they are similar in nature to those in 'Zero Dark Thirty'.
Now is the time that I should also mention the musical soundtrack, which is similarly noteworthy. The themes of it are not that varied, but possess great depth and portray a fantastic foreboding of gravity and threat - usually through the use of a large number of double-bass (or are they cellos ?) strings being brushed at slow speed, producing a pulsating low-pitched 'groan'.
As hinted at earlier, on Blu-ray everything is presented extremely well - with, for me, the nighttime scenes benefiting the most from HD to reveal the detail and wonderful backdrops that Deakins captures (eg sunset, thunderstorms/lightning); there are also a number of very impressive airborne tracking shots. The action scenes and music take full advantage of the formidable Dolby Atmos soundtrack capabilities.
Unfortunately, as far as extras go we don't get very much - no commentary, just a few relatively 'light' featurettes; we do get a UV copy though.....
I've attached a photo of the back of the disc box to show all the disc info, as it's not already on the main Amazon page.
I found 'Sicario' to be a very charged and thought-provoking action/drama which is both well made/filmed and has a very (appropriately !) atmospheric musical soundtrack. The plot covers many controversial matters, especially those surrounding illegal killing, and portrays many characters with (for me) a pretty reprehensible set of moral values and attitudes; this is testament to the competence of the production staff and cast, who are uniformly excellent and make their characters and actions entirely 'believable'. If you can stomach those aspects and the associated graphic violence/gore you should be similarly rewarded.
part of his team to tackle a Mexican Cartel that are responsible for the supply of drugs to the U.S.
Their task is to identify the Drug-Lord and close him down.
'Kate' readily agree's given what had happened earlier in the day when as a part of a S.W.A.T team raiding a suspected
drug operation in a small town close to Phoenix two of her colleagues were killed and a gruesome discovery was made,
by joining the task-force those responsible for what she'd witnessed may well be brought to justice.
With the task-force leader 'Matt' and consultant 'Alejandro' (Benicio Del Toro) she fly's to El Paso to link up with the rest
of the team.
'Alejandro' has a questionable past but has his reasons for being a part of the task-force, there is a score to settle.
The task begins almost immediately raiding a location in a Mexican border-town, what happens when the team are leaving
Mexico will trouble 'Kate'
She is an idealist and has yet to realize what she'd signed up for the learning curve could yet be fatal.
There have been many films of this genre in recent years, i feel this to be superior than many, it builds slowly but always holds
ones attention, it's an engaging and convincing movie with excellent performances from 'Benicio Del Toro' and 'Emily Blunt'
Stepping into Darkness - The Visual Design of Sicario
Blunt, Brolin and Benicio - Portraying the Characters of Sicario
A Pulse from the Desert - The Score of Sicario
Battle Zone - The Origins of Sicario
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