Sicario Blu-ray Review

Over the last few years, director Denis Villeneuve has made a name for himself with what I’ve dubbed the “slow burn” movie; movies with rich, deep characters but stories that take a while to get going and then fizzle as the movie goes along. SICARIO is a good example of that and it’s a film that does almost everything right. But it lacks an emotional arc the audience needed to really get into the movie and without that arc, we’re left with another finely crafted film that should be respected, but not necessarily loved.

Kate (Blunt) is an overachieving FBI agent that has crafted a name for herself with her experience on domestic drug busts. Her skills under pressure catch the eye of Matt (Brolin), a CIA agent that’s putting together a task force with a special mission to take down a cartel leader. Matt is the leader of the team, but by his side is the mysterious Alejandro (Del Toro), who serves as an adviser, but obviously has motivations of his own. Kate agrees to join the team, but as the team continues their raids and travels in Mexico, she begins to suspect the team’s activities might not be legal.

Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro in Sicario

There’s not much to dislike about SICARIO. The acting is superb and even incredible in some instances, the direction is great, the style is slick and smooth and the story is interesting even though it’s not always engaging. The glaring problem with SICARIO is that nothing really happens and none of the characters develop over the course of the film. Sure, Kate goes through a lot and there were some intense moments, but she ends the film the same way she started the film, which is as a quiet, focused FBI agent jaded with the war on drugs. Thanks to another great performance from Benicio Del Toro, Alejandro stole the show, but as cool as he was, his character was reduced to a revenge seeker as opposed to someone there for a greater purpose.

Benicio del Toro in Sicario

In some ways, maybe the lack of resolution or development in the film was an indictment on the lack of resolution or progress in the drug war. I understand the symbolism, but the frustrating thing about SICARIO is that it’s so incredibly close to being a great film. It just needed a deeper character connection to allow the audience to be emotionally invested in someone. Without any sort of emotional investment, the scenes where the characters are in danger fall flat because the audience doesn’t care one way or the other. And that just about sums up the problem with SICARIO; the audience didn’t really care.

Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro in Sicario

But SICARIO excels on every other level. As great as the acting was, the real star of the film is cinematographer Roger Deakins. His greatness is unparalleled when it comes to cinematographers working today, but his style and artistry elevated SICARIO to a level it wouldn’t have attained without him. At some point in the near future, someone is going to hand Denis Villeneuve an incredible script and he’s going to knock it out of the park. SICARIO, PRISONERS and even ENEMY were very close to being great films and when he finally gets that perfect script, he’s going to win every award available. Unfortunately, despite its successes, SICARIO came up just short.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video: SICARIO looks great on Blu-ray

Audio: The audio was fine.

Stepping Into Darkness: The Visual Design of Sicario (16:45): The cinematography is touched on in the film, but this is more about tone and style than anything Deakins had to do.

Blunt, Brolin and Benicio: Portraying the Characters of Sicario (14:34): The big three stars show up to talk about the film.

A Pulse From the Desert: The Score of Sicario (6:18): Johan Johannsson scored the film and this quick featurette takes a look at his process.

Battle Zone: The Origins of Sicario (13:44): This is too short for what it tries to do, but this gives a very, very brief look at some of the real events that inspired the movie.

Trailers

OVERALL 3
    MOVIE REVIEW
    BLU-RAY REVIEW
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