Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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- Sony 85 inch X950H FALD TV
With the release of Sicario: Day of the Soldado in a few days I figured it would be time to bring across an older "legacy" review that was done several years ago for Sicario on 4K UHD. All of hte thoughts in this film are from when I reviewed it in 2016, just with a tweaked video score as the TV I had back then had really poor HDR support and I've updated it to match the better tech of the Sony 65x900E that I'm viewing it with now.
The war on drugs has been waged long before the famed term “the war on drugs” even came into the picture. Mexico and other Latin American countries have become a hot bed for the creation and distribution of said chemicals/plants and the flow through our southern borders has spiraled out of control. We’ve seen other such movies and TV shows like “The Bridge” and even older more stylized takes on the drug trade such as Tom Clancy’s “Clear and Present Danger” depict the terror and violence these drug cartel leaders will reign down on anyone who stands in the way of their profits. Then in slides Sicario to the mix, sliding under pretty much all radars at the theatrical release, and leaving me with a few “yeah that was a great movie!” from personal friends to go by. I wasn’t even sure WHAT to expect when I sat down to review the film, but left with my jaw hanging on the floor wondering just WHY this film didn’t get the accolades it deserved.
“Sicario” is roughly translated as Hitman in the Mexican language, but also comes from the Latin word “Sicarius” which was used to describe Israeli zealots who underwent assassination as a means to their ends. To put it mildly, FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is going to be put into EXACTLY that same position. After a kidnapping case in Phoenix Arizona unveils some times to the Juarez drug cartels, she is asked to join an interagency task force to take down a shadowy drug cartel leader somewhere deep within Mexico. Desperate to jump at the chance to take down the guy who has caused so much damage in her home, Kate joins up with mysterious government agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and heads out to “El Paso ish” only to find out that her adventure is just beginning.
Their little trip down to El Paso ACTUALLY ends up being a little trip across the border to extricate one of the cartel member’s upper echelons back into the United States. The trip naturally goes south near the end and Kate comes to realize that maybe there is more to these guys than meets the eye. Military crew, operating outside the law and filled with a few members that just seem “off” to her. Kate desperately wants to do things by the books, but every second she’s with these men she sees things that shakes her faith in the establishment and causes her to reevaluate everything she’s ever believed in.
What makes Sicario so powerful is the sheer amount of grey material that it covers. Kate is a very black and white person, which is what sets up the conflicts later on in the film, but the rest of the entire operation is shrouded in grey. There is very little right, very little wrong, just areas that you can see the positives and negatives of their actions. I Even found myself partially siding with Agent Grazer and even the mysterious Alejandro (played magnificently by Benicio Del Toro) held my sympathy. I can say “hey that’s against the law!” in some spots, but I can see the need and goals they were attempting to stake out. While I can point out the simple laws of the land, their tactics certainly have as much positives to them as the negating realities. Kate is stuck in the middle of all of this, desperate to keep to the black and white path that she’s grown up with, and her journey to Mecca (so to speak) changes her in ways that she couldn’t possibly have imagined by the end of the film. It may not always be a good change, but believe me, there are definitely some changes.
The characters are really what make this drama, and they are all handled with precision and loving care. Benicio Del Toro is the standout here as the shadowy and mysterious Alejandro. There’s a million different theories about who he was and where his allegiances lie, but it’s the evolution of watching him and finding out his motives that really make the character worthwhile. He plays the role softly and simply, but so precisely that you cannot take your eyes off of him. Even when he’s seemingly making little to no facial expressions. Emily Blunt is mesmerizing as Kate. She wants so very much to believe in the rule of law, even in the face of all this gray area, but even her faith has to be shaken and broken at some point. Brolin revels in his role as Grazer, just having fun as the boss who’s in charge, with very little oversight. He never stands out, but does the role so perfectly that any less would have been a travesty. There’s a couple cool little cameos, such as Jeffrey Donovan as a shadow agent (from Burn Notice fame) as well as getting to see Shane from “The Walking Dead” even pop in as cop friend of Reggie’s.
Rated R for strong violence, grisly images, and language
4K Video: Video:
• Blunt, Brolin and Benicio: Portraying the Characters of Sicario
• A Pulse from the Desert: The Score of Sicario
• Battle Zone: The Origins of Sicario
Movies like Sicario don’t come about very often, and when they do it’s something that serious movie goers should treasure. Especially in today’s fluff riddled movie environment. Besides a few cheesy lines of dialog, Sicario weaves an intricate, but completely plausible narrative that manages to keep the viewer AND the main character in the dark equally as well. Twists and turns keep the waters roiling with intrigue and the finale is enough to leave you feeling like you were gut punched, but also nodding enthusiastically at the seeming necessity of the situation. The Tech specs for the film are excelletn and if it were not for just an adequate amount of special features and a slightly soft picture, this disc would be just about perfect. Still, it was one of my favorite movies of the year and the incredible video and mind blowing audio create a fantastic viewing experience, and this upgrade to 4K is just what the doctor ordered.
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Emily Blunt, Jeffrey Donovan
Directed by: Dennis Villeneuve
Written by: Taylor Sheridan
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Runtime: 122 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 1st, 2016
Recommendation: Must Own