The Daily Cup 18 of 365 Sicario

 

Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.

Tone of a film is important to me. I tend to gravitate towards films with lighter tones, I’m ok with a dark or serious tone, but prefer it in genre films (sci-fi, fantasy). When a movie is rooted heavily in the real world and has a dark tone, they aren’t my favorite films to watch. Films are escapism for me, and something that reminds me how horrible the world is, zaps the energy out of me. Sicario (2015) is a film that while excellently crafted, is a film whose tone take the fun out of movies for me.

Sicario follows young and principled FBI agent Kate Mercer (Emily Blunt) as she is attached to a DEA task force who is hunting down a Mexican drug lord. The task force quickly enters ethical ambiguity and Agent Mercer is force to ether surrender to its methods or take a moral stance. She takes the high ground, but like in the real world, the darkness wins and many people die.

The film takes a hard look at the violence and absurdity of the drug war. It realistically portrays the real Mexican town of Juarez, which is overrun by drug cartels and violence. The film holds a mirror to the ugliness of the fallout caused by the drug war and American policies related to immigration and illegal drugs. These are important topics, and the film explores them in a morally ambiguous manner, punctuated by moments of extreme violence.

The most impressive thing about this film is the cinematography. Director Denis Villeneuve weavers a compelling story with the breathtaking visuals of cinematographer Roger Deakins. The stark and barren colors of the southwestern desert and Mexican shanty towns is contrasted brilliantly against government installations and billion dollar estates. My very favorite visual sequence involved the DEA assaulting an underground drug running tunel, in an almost noir style Deakins crafts a firefight with shadows and the incredible use of infrared cameras. It’s a sequence that will be in Deakins reel forever.

 Seriously, look at this. Pure beauty.

Seriously, look at this. Pure beauty.

It bears noting the incredible performances from the main cast. Emily Blunt brins real humanity to a brutal reality. Josh Brolin is a career soldier comfortable in his use of violence to get the job done, and Benicio Del Toro is a chillingly focused assassin let loose by the US government. The quality of the performance extends to the minor characters as well.

Sicario fits into the category of films I’m glad I saw, but never want to watch again. The dark tone, and almost nihilistic message of the film aren’t what I seek out in film. The craft of the film is impeccable, Roger Deakins is one of the greatest cinematographers of our age, and this film is one of his best works.

Tally

Movies new to me watched: 16/292

Other movies: 2/73

Total movies watched: 18/365

Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at kyle@hotchocolatemedia.net or on Twitter at @kbdekker.