Trying to fall in love with film again.

'Sicario' shows why Denis Villeneuve is one of my favourite directors

Sicario (2015) - IMDbStory

Idealistic FBI Agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is recruited by a government task force run by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to aid in the escalating war with drugs on the US-Mexico border.

What I love about this story is how seemingly simple it is. There is a lot of room here for character growth and shift which is exactly what happens in the movie. While the movie centres around a concept, it's more about the characters than the concept itself, which makes for a more interesting movie.

Acting

When I first heard of this movie I was drawn to it because of the cast. And that was before I became a fan of the director. The cast of this movie brought their A-game. It can be really easy to overact in a movie like this and no one does that. All the characters feel like real people and because of that,  you can see yourself in them.

My favourite performance is without a doubt Benicio del Toro. Alejandro Gillick is one of those characters that doesn't say much but manages to say everything that they need to. He moves with a sense of himself that you can't help but watch. For the number of awards, he was nominated for he didn't win enough and I'm salty about it

Emily Blunt performance is also noteworthy, Kate is the most relatable character and serves as an audience surrogate and because of that, you follow her more than you do the other characters. It's no surprise that she was nominated for a nuch of awards for her performance one of which was a critics choice award.

It was really interesting to watch Daniel Kaluuya pre-Get Out. While he's not a main character I couldn't help but watch him cause I'm a huge fan of his. Daniel Kaluuya isnt the only recognisable face, Jon Bernthal and Victor Garber are also in the movie and it was a welcome surprise when they popped on the screen.

Writing/Direction

This movie was directed by none other than Denis Villeneuve and if you've spent time with me the last year, I haven't stopped talking about his movies since I watched Blade Runner 2049 and found out that he directed one of my favourite movies Prisoners. (if you haven't seen it, you really should.) That being said, the direction in this movie is top-notch. Seeing as this movie is a thriller you're expecting tension and this movie has the right amount of it. When watching thrillers there can be too much tension where you feel as though you get uncomfortable and can almost expect what is going to happen and when, but in this movie, you never really reach the point where you get uncomfortable. I've mentioned the Alfred Hitchcock technique that I got from a really cool YouYube channel called Cinefix. They explain the technique as showing the audience the bomb under the table and making them wait for it to go off, and it is done very well here. There are scenes where you have a vague inkling of what is going to happen (and if you've seen any Denis Villeneuve films then you'll know you're wrong) and the wait for that thing to happen is just as enjoyable as said thing. (can you tell I'm trying to not spoil the movie?)

Something I haven't talked about in recent reviews is shot composition. The shot composition in this film is A1. Everything on screen is there for a reason and serves to aid the movie and push the story forward. Characters and items are shown is specific places to draw your attention to them and either make you think of the larger picture or forget the larger picture and focus on that one specific moment.

The writing in this film is also very very good. Taylor Sheridan managed to write a film that was gritty and realistic while also having relatable characters and a story that is easy to follow. The main theme of the movie is the Mexcian drug war and its a complicated subject and while this movie does come at it from an "us vs them" mentality, it's not completely black and white and that makes the movie more interesting. Watching characters that live in a moral grey area is more interesting than watching characters who never stray outside the lines.

Set Design

The cinematography is sooooo good. No surprise when the movie was nominated for best cinematography. Talking about the cinematography is an add on from shot composition. Roger Deakin is a master of his craft, from the way he uses light and blocking, whether they're close-ups or wide shots, the film looks absolutely gorgeous and serves the story.

Something else I haven't mentioned in a while is colour grading, the colour grading in this movie is one of my favourite aspects. All the colour stand out and complement each other beautifully. I mean look at this

Image result for sicario cinematography

Or this

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Or this

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I am not joking when I say I could've picked pretty much any scene in this movie. The cinematography is without a doubt Oscar-worthy.

I also recommend this article that breaks down the cinematography, or this article that shows still from the movie

Score/Soundtrack

Jóhann Jóhannsson scored the movie and the score fits the tone perfectly. I love it when the score of a movie is like a character in and of itself. It adds levity and tension when it needs to. Scenes that come to mind are the traffic jam on the bridge and the last third of the film (I can't name a specific scene because that would be a spoiler)

Overall Thoughts

It's been a while since I saw a film I liked as much as Sicario, I was glued to my seat the whole time and for an intense film with a 2-hour runtime, it's a really easy watch. The cast did a phenomenal job of portraying likeable characters that live in varying shades of grey when it comes to their morals. Its's the kind of film that you don't want to talk about too much so you don't ruin it for people who haven't seen it (although if you haven't seen this movie what are you doing?) I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone and everyone. With masterful direction and beautiful cinematography, I'm pretty sure you'll like this movie.

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