SICARIO: Good, But Not Enough Style

First and foremost, check out SICARIO. Chances are good that most regular movie-goers haven’t seen it, possibly haven’t even heard of it, and it’s definitely deserving of your time. Far more deserving than a lot of what I saw last year. But it does fall short of the levels it could attain.

It just lacked an overall “coolness” factor. At times, they really seemed to be focused on the presentation of things, but other times they just seemed to be capturing the events as they unfolded.

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The performances were really good. Whether we’re talking about Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin or Benicio Del Toro, everyone was on top of their game. And the storyline they had to work with gave plenty of room to show off their acting talents.

Blunt’s role is Kate Macer, an FBI agent seeking to identify the individuals responsible for killing one of her partners during a raid. When she becomes part of a joint-agency task force, lead by Josh Brolin’s Matt Graver, she learns that her role in the investigation might not be what she thought she was signing up for, made clear by Graver’s reluctance to provide real answers on any of her questions, especially with respect to Benicio Del Toro’s character, Alejandro Gillick.

Blunt isn’t the badass, gun-slinging, problem solver that she was in EDGE OF TOMORROW, but that’s not what the story calls for. In one scene, a character notes that she looks like a little girl as she cowers in trepidation, and she absolutely balances the strong, single woman FBI agent with the idea that she feels out of her element and is surrounded by uncertainty about her situation and potential misdirection from her peers. Brolin plays the mostly-smarmy-though-mostly-well-meaning role well, progressing things in a way that leads you to question whether he’s a protagonist or an antagonist. Benicio Del Toro, as per usual, brings his superb cool-and-mysterious persona to the screen with a character who is extremely proficient at what he does, but what he does is shrouded in a bit of mystery.

It’s hard to point a finger at directly what keeps this film from reaching its full potential, but despite some great elements, I doubt SICARIO will ever be discussed as favorably as HEAT or USUAL SUSPECTS. It didn’t even reach the levels attained by THE TOWN, and given the respective acting talents in the two movies, it certainly should have at least matched it. SICARIO just lacked a sense of style that would help make it feel special like those films.

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Perhaps that could be attributed to director Denis Villeneuve. I’m aware of his previous work, with INCENDIES, PRISONERS and ENEMY each getting decent reviews, but not raving reviews to the degree that any of those films got pushed anywhere near the top of my queue to watch. This doesn’t bode well for the upcoming BLADE RUNNER sequel he’s set to helm in 2018.

Tempering your expectations, SICARIO should be an entertaining experience. It’s by all accounts a good movie, with strong performances from at least six individuals (with Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Donovan, Victor Garber, Daniel Kaluuya and Julio Cedillo each serving their minor roles atleast adeptly). It’s only violent in small doses, which shouldn’t be offensive to people who shy away from / avoid graphic violence. There is some decent cinematography, at times, as well as some decent dialogue in parts, but nothing to take it over the top. Small doses of great does not a great film make. A shame, because SICARIO could have been up there with some really notable films.

My rating: 85 out of 100

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