by | Oct 13, 2015 | 0 comments

A Dark Look Into the Mexican Cartel War That is Ripe With Great Performances

Actors usually seek dark films because they always tend to be a challenge for them, where they must play reserved characters under an incredible amount of pressure. What many might not know is that it is an incredibly grueling process, actors get so deep into their roles that they sometimes have a hard time transitioning back to the real world. Such are the cases of Bela Lugosi after Dracula, Heath Ledger after The Dark Knight, and even Chiwetel Ejiophor after 12 Years a Slave (he spent many weeks by himself in a Brooklyn apartment before he was able to let go of his role). Denis Villeneuve’s newest film, Sicario plunges the actors and us into the dark world of cartel warfare, and it is also hard for us to transition back to the real world… or was what we just say the actual real world?

Sicario tells the story of an FBI officer, Kate Macer, that specializes in kidnapping cases (Emily Blunt) who is recruited to an elite anti-cartel taskforce headed by a flip-flop wearing Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), and includes the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) whose origin, past, and loyalties are completely unbeknownst to us. The taskforce operates on uncharted ground with no regards to civilian casualties or international protocols. The main objective is to track down and take down a cartel kingpin. The film looks at the cold hard truth on the other side of the American border and takes us into the completely raw and unfiltered world of the war on drugs.

The film itself is really impactful and might be a little dark for most audiences. Indeed at one point where the film seems to be loosening up a bit, director Villeneuve is really just testing us to see if we let our guard down. In the end the film tries too hard to drill its message into our brains so that you might be compelled to say “I get it!”

The acting is spectacular. The cast has an incredible repertoire with the likes of Emily Blunt transitioning really well into her more darker roles (after Looper and Edge of Tomorrow), Josh Brolin is great as the wisecracking leader, and Benicio Del Toro shows us once again why he’s one of the best actors in Hollywood today. Blunt has the hardest job, since she has to be the moral guide for the audience, but she also has to show her different layers to the audience; the tough-girl outer shell, and the lonelier persona buried inside. She shows her range of acting chops, especially in a flirting scene with the cameo of Jon Bernthal, which seems almost completely out of place, but is really just a tease from Villeneuve. Josh Brolin meanwhile takes on a more unusual cheery role that leaves us all surprised and wondering why he isn’t given more roles like this; he must be sick of playing sulking silent men (Milk, No Country for Old Men), in fact we already caught a glimpse of his ability to play fast-talking witty guys with his brief appearance in Inherent Vice. Finally Del Toro, who gives us another of his serious performances; his Alejandro is a tormented man with a past and unseen story that boosted with his mysticism hooks the audience almost immediately. The audience might not appreciate that playing a mysterious character without appearing cheesy (and actually looking pretty badass) is incredibly hard.

In the end the film is a great piece of art with great performances. Villeneuve is on a roll of dark films after Prisoner and Enemy and his partnering with cinematographer Roger Deakins produces one of the most eye-pleasing films of the year, reminding us of an old western film. Most importantly Sicario makes you think, by delving not only into the dark cartel world, but also into the way we qualify our morals in times of crisis. 







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