Tag Archives: cartel

Sicario – Review

23 Oct

I’ve seen plenty of new movies this year, each with various degrees of emotion, suspense, and tension. Looking back on everything I’ve seen, I can honestly say that Sicario is the most intense film I have seen and probably will see all year. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners and Enemy), written by Taylor Sheridan (known for a performance on Sons of Anarchy), and filmed by Roger Deakins (who worked with Velleneuve and on many of the Coen Brothers’ films), Sicario not only looks beautiful and offers a very powerful and realistic story, it also features strong performances from all its actors. Sicario is definitely a stand out film of 2015.

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Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is a young FBI agent with a bright future ahead of her. After a terrifying encounter with murderous members of the cartel, Macer is recruited by mysterious government agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to be part of a strike force aimed at crippling those responsible. She soon meets Graver’s partner Alejandro (Benicio del Toro), who she can’t quite place on any particular side or agency, making him the wild card of the team. After joining this special operations team, Macer is plunged into the violent world of the Mexican drug trade where the reprehensible violence is done by the cartel as well as the Americans she is working for, and soon clear right and wrong becomes indistinguishable.

Sicario very much reminds me of Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic from 2000. Both films show the realities of the drug trade and the lives that are affected by all of the violence. While Traffic is most certainly unapologetic, Sicario feels like a behind the scenes look at something we’re not supposed to see. There’s crime, lies, torture, and murder on both sides of the spectrum, which forces the audience to find logic in the lesser of two evils. This isn’t really a film that will allow you to kick back and relax for a few hours. There is way too much thought that has to be put into the story and characters, plus it’s just way too stressful.

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There’s a scene in Sicario where the special forces team is attempting to cross the Bridge of the Americas to get back into the United States. The only problem is that they are caught in a gridlock and are surrounded by a few cars filled with cartel members. Instead of creating what could’ve been a run of the mill action sequence, Villeneuve and Sheridan create an incredibly suspenseful and low key scene that explodes in only a few seconds of realistic violence. This scene is the best example of the tension that this movie creates. Never does anything in this movie seem overblown or unnecessary. This also means that there is a lot of down time between missions that the team goes on, which may seem boring, but remember that this film is striving for realism.

Even though Sicario strives to paint an accurate portrait reality, never does it forget that it is still a movie and requires time for cinematic drama and character development. Sheridan’s screenplay is very down to earth and all of the actors play their parts very well. Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro especially stand out as the scene stealers of this movie. Deakins’ cinematography is as beautiful as ever and deserves a possible Oscar nom when all is said and done. Speaking of Oscar noms, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score is haunting and is certainly the best music I’ve heard in a movie all year.

Sicario is an unforgettable movie experience that feels like it sometimes bends the rulers of modern film making in order to create a unique story with real characters and situations. There have been a lot of great movies that came out this year, and this film stands up there in the upper echelons of my favorites of 2015. It can be difficult and unsettling at points, but it feels so authentic that it should be required viewing for anyone who loves movies.

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Colombiana – Review

3 Jan

I don’t really like judging action movies too hard. There are some that are actually excellent pieces of film making, but then there are others that can only be seen as popcorn entertainment. Colombiana belongs in the latter category. Although it tries to be something more than it actually is, I feel like everything in the movie is recycled and the pieces don’t always fit to form a perfectly clear bigger picture.

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As a young girl, Cataleya (Zoe Saldana), sees her mother and father gunned down by men sent by Don Luis (Beto Benites), a powerful cartel boss. Sworn to avenge her parents, she is trained by her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis) to become a powerful assassin. Now that Cataleya is older and more experienced, she finally targets Don Luis and tries pushing him out of his hiding spot so that she can attack. This may prove to be a more difficult task since Don Luis has a connection that he is willing to use in the CIA.

The best way I can describe Colombiana is that it’s a combination of Léon: The Professional and La Femme Nikita, both of which are Luc Besson films. Well, what do you know? Colombiana was written by Luc Besson. I have great respect for the guy. He has created many fantastic action films that are both fun and memorable, but this is a pretty lazy attempt when it comes to creativity. I haven’t just seen all of this before, I’ve seen it in movies of the same writer and they are completely recycled ideas.

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Everything about this movie is pretty ho hum including the performances.  Zoe Saldana is beautiful, but nothing really special, even though she definitely has the ability to be a believable leaden lady. Part of it has to do with the dialogue she was given to work with. Cliff Curtis has some dramatic scenes that are easy to get into and Jordi Mollá is more interesting than the main villain. None of these performances are what I would call bad, but the writing by Besson is surprisingly dry and cliché.

A point I will give the movie is that the action can be really cool. There’s one fight that happens in a bathroom that abandons all filmic style and tries to play as real as possible. The choreography isn’t overly stylized, like a lot of the gun play in the movie, but actually looks like a fight of this kind would look like. The stylized violence can be pretty fun, with a surprising scene involving a rocket launcher being a high light for me. I feel that maybe Besson and directer Olivier Megaton both really just wanted to make a really cool looking action movie and didn’t really think worrying about the script would be too much of a concern.

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I can’t recommend Colombiana. It has its moments of fun, but the rest of the movie is a stereotypical mess. I didn’t care about the villain or Cataleya’s main mission. All I really wanted was to see the next cool action sequence. Quiet moments of dialogue that were used to create drama turned out to not be dramatic at all and even stale some of the performances. Zoe Saldana is beautiful and some of the action scenes are really cool, but there are much better action movies out there to watch than Colombiana.