Sicario (2015 film)
Sicario is a 2015 American crime-thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve, written by Taylor Sheridan and starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin and Victor Garber. The film follows a principled FBI agent who is enlisted by a government task force to bring down the leader of a powerful and brutal Mexican drug cartel. Sicario was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. It began a limited release in the United States on September 18, 2015, followed by a nationwide release on October 2, 2015.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Denis Villeneuve|
|Written by||Taylor Sheridan|
|Music by||Jóhann Jóhannsson|
|Edited by||Joe Walker|
|Box office||$84.9 million|
Sicario received praise for its screenplay, direction, musical score, cinematography, and for Blunt and del Toro's performances. The film was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score and Best Sound Editing at the 88th Academy Awards, as well as three BAFTA nominations for Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography and Best Film Music. The film received criticism by viewers in Mexico for its depiction of the city of Juarez. A sequel, Sicario 2: Soldado, began shooting in November 2016 and is scheduled to be released in June 2018.
In Chandler, Arizona, FBI Critical Incident Response Group Agents Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) and Reggie Wayne lead a raid of a suspected Mexican cartel safehouse, where they discover dozens of decaying corpses and a booby trap that kills two officers. Following the raid, Kate's boss recommends her for a Department of Justice special joint task force, overseen by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), to apprehend the Sonora Cartel lieutenant Manuel Díaz.
On a private jet to El Paso, Texas, Kate meets Matt's partner, the secretive Colombian Alejandro (Benicio del Toro). Joined by U.S. Marshals, DEA agents and a U.S. Army Delta Force unit, the team travels in force to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to extradite Guillermo Diaz, Manuel's brother and one of his top men. At the border crossing, the team preempts an ambush by swiftly killing many Mexican cartel gunmen. At a U.S. air base, Alejandro tortures Guillermo, learning of a tunnel Díaz uses to smuggle drugs into the U.S. Kate, however, begins to question the legality of the team's methods, and wonders for whom Matt and Alejandro really work.
The team travels to an Arizona Border Patrol station to question detained illegal immigrants. Reggie and Kate demand to know Matt’s plan; and he reveals that the objective is to disrupt Díaz's drug operations to such a degree that Díaz will be summoned back to Mexico by his boss, elusive Sonora Cartel drug lord Fausto Alarcón, and by following Diaz they will find Alarcón. The team raids a bank used by Díaz's money launderers, disrupting his cash flow. While raiding the bank, Kate is advised not to enter, as she may be recognized later, but she refuses and enters anyway, hoping to gather evidence on which a prosecution can be built. Matt later informs her that the operation only served as a figurative cattle-prod for Diaz and will not actually be valuable in court.
Disheartened, Kate asks Reggie to take her out for a drink at a nearby bar, where they, by chance, meet Ted, Reggie's friend and a local police officer. As the night ends, Kate takes Ted to her apartment. They become passionate when Kate realizes he is corrupt, and has been sent by the cartel to gather information on the operation. They struggle, and Ted gains the advantage before Alejandro, who has been tailing Kate for safety, intervenes. Back in a police vehicle, Alejandro extracts the names of other corrupt state policemen from Ted's phone.
The team learns that Díaz is being re-called to Mexico, as they predicted, so the team plans to attack his smuggling tunnel on the border. Kate argues that they have no jurisdiction in Mexico, so Matt condescendingly tells her that he was only using her. The “DOJ joint task force” is really a façade for a CIA operation. As the CIA is not authorized to operate on US soil, her status as an FBI agent gave them legal permission to do so. Reggie advises Kate to walk away, but she insists on joining the raid on the tunnel in order to find out more. While the team kills everyone in the tunnels, Alejandro reaches the other end of the tunnel and kidnaps one of Díaz's drug mules, a corrupt Mexican police officer named Silvio. Kate arrives and attempts to arrest Alejandro, who shoots into her bulletproof vest before driving off with Silvio in his cruiser. Kate returns to the US side of the tunnel, where she confronts Matt.
Matt explains that by disabling the Sonora Cartel, they are attempting to return to a time when a single cartel, Medellín, ran the drug trade. This would ultimately return order to the industry and thus reduce violence, and until Americans stop using cocaine, this is the best they can hope for. Alejandro, who worked for Medellín, was brought in to assassinate Alarcón. Matt explains to Kate that Alarcón had ordered the murder of Alejandro’s wife and daughter, and that this is Alejandro's opportunity for revenge.
In Mexico, Alejandro locates Diaz, kills Silvio and forces Diaz at gunpoint to continue to Alarcón. Reaching Alarcón’s estate, Alejandro, with the help of a CIA surveillance drone, kills Díaz and all the guards. He finds the Alarcón family at their dinner table, accuses Alarcón of murdering his and many other families, and shoots his wife and children in front of him, giving Alarcón a few seconds to see his dead family before Alejandro kills him as well.
Later, Alejandro appears in Kate's apartment, where he forces her at gunpoint to sign a waiver legitimizing the operation. As he leaves she aims her pistol at him as he makes eye contact with her, but she cannot bring herself to pull the trigger.
In Ciudad Juarez, Silvio's widow watches her son's soccer game. The game is briefly interrupted by the sound of gunfire, before continuing.
- Emily Blunt as Kate Macer
- Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick
- Josh Brolin as Matt Graver
- Victor Garber as Dave Jennings
- Jon Bernthal as Ted
- Daniel Kaluuya as Reggie Wayne
- Jeffrey Donovan as Steve Forsing
- Raoul Trujillo as Rafael
- Julio Cesar Cedillo as Fausto Alarcón
- Hank Rogerson as Phil Coopers
- Bernardo Saracino as Manuel Díaz
- Maximiliano Hernández as Silvio
Themes and analysisEdit
This section needs expansion with: thematic analysis from further published reports, as all analysis comes from a single source (Propublica), as of October 2015. You can help by adding to it. (October 2015)
According to director Denis Villeneuve, the film was conceived at the height of the violence in Juárez in 2010. According to Sebastian Rotella, an American foreign correspondent and investigative journalist, Sicario examined many aspects of the U.S. War on Drugs against, most generally, drug cartels in Mexico, Central, and South America. Taking a perspective as an American,[clarification needed] he notes that the illegal drug trafficking situation in Mexico has remained largely stagnant in the two decades prior to the film's release, and that the film asserts that the American War on Drugs is "turning us into the very monsters we are trying to defeat." Rotella asserts that progress has been made in Mexico, and expresses qualms over the depiction of the movie's "black ops campaign," relative to his experience that most U.S. operations resulted in the arrest and prosecution of drug lords.
In December 2013, it was announced that Denis Villeneuve would direct a Mexican border drama, Sicario ([si.ˈka.ɾjo], the Spanish word for 'hitman', from the ancient Sicarii), from a screenplay by Taylor Sheridan. Black Label Media financed and co-produced with Thunder Road Pictures. Basil Iwanyk produced the film along with Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill, and Thad Luckinbill.
Emily Blunt became involved with the film in April 2014, shortly followed by Benicio del Toro. Jon Bernthal and Josh Brolin joined the film in May, and cinematographer Roger Deakins was also hired. Daniel Kaluuya, Maximiliano Hernández, and Jeffrey Donovan were then cast, and Jóhann Jóhannsson was hired to compose the music for the film in August 2014.
In May 2014, Lionsgate acquired the U.S. rights to the film, while Lionsgate International will handle the foreign sales. On February 23, 2015, Lionsgate set the film for a limited release in the United States on September 18, 2015, and a wide release on October 2, 2015. The film had its world premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2015. It was then selected to be shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2015.
Sicario grossed $46.9 million in the United States & Canada and $38 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $84.9 million, against a budget of $30 million, making it a financial success.
On its first day, the film grossed $4.3 million, coming in third behind The Martian and Hotel Transylvania 2. In its opening weekend, it grossed $12.1 million, exceeding expectations, finishing behind The Martian and Hotel Transylvania 2.
On the review aggregation website, Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 93%, based on 244 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Led by outstanding work from Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro, Sicario is a taut, tightly wound thriller with much more on its mind than attention-getting set pieces." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 48 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
Richard Roeper gave the film an A, calling it one of the year's best, and applauded del Toro's performance, saying, "...then there's del Toro, who lurks about the fringes of the action for most of the story, and then springs into action in a handful of scenes in a variety of ways that will leave you shaken—and grateful to have seen such beautifully dark work." Likewise, Dan Jolin from Empire gave the film 5 stars, calling it "a beautifully murky, hard-edged thriller. Quite simply, one of the best films of the year."
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian praised the acting of Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, and Josh Brolin. He stated that although her character Kate Macer was implausible, Emily Blunt "brazens out any possible absurdity with great acting focus and front". Chris Ryan of Grantland compared Sicario to the film Apocalypse Now directed by Francis Ford Coppola, noting an analogy between the former's themes with respect to the Mexican Drug War and the latter's with respect to the Vietnam War. He also stated that the characters Alejandro Gillick and Matt Graver in Sicario resemble those of Colonel Kurtz and William Kilgore, respectively in Apocalypse Now.
Top ten listsEdit
Sicario was listed on many critics' top ten lists.
- 1st – Adam Chitwood, Collider.com
- 2nd – Mike D'Angelo, The A.V. Club
- 2nd – Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
- 2nd – Micah Mertes, Omaha World-Herald
- 3rd – Josh Kupecki, Austin Chronicle
- 3rd – Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects
- 3rd – Jack Giroux, /Film
- 3rd – Erik McClanahan & Rodrigo Perez, Indiewire
- 4th – Steven Boone, RogerEbert.com
- 4th – Jeff Cannata, /Film
- 4th – Steve Persall, Tampa Bay Times
- 4th – Kyle Smith, New York Post
- 5th – Christoper Orr, The Atlantic
- 5th – Rene Rodriguez , Miami Herald
- 5th – Ben Travers, Indiewire
- 5th – Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
- 5th – Kiko Martinez, San Antonio Current
- 6th – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
- 6th – Katie Rife, The A.V. Club
- 6th – Wired
- 6th – David Chen & Devindra Hardawar, /Film
- 6th – James Berardinelli, Reelviews
- 6th – Troy L. Smith, Cleveland Plain Dealer
- 7th – Perri Nemiroff, Collider.com
- 7th – Glenn Lovell, CinemaDope
- 5th – Nicholas Laskin, Indiewire
- 9th – Alynda Wheat, People
- 9th – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club
- 9th – MTV
- 9th – Jeffrey M. Anderson, San Francisco Examiner
- Top 10 (listed alphabetically, not ranked) – Bill Stamets & Katherine Tulich, RogerEbert.com
Before the film's release, Juarez mayor Enrique Serrano Escobar urged citizens to boycott it, believing the film presented a false and negative image of the city. He said the violence depicted in the film was accurate until about 2010, and that the city had made progress in restoring peace.
Lionsgate has commissioned a sequel centering on del Toro's character, subtitled Soldado. The project is being overseen by writer Taylor Sheridan with Villeneuve also involved. In April 2016, producers Molly Smith and Trent Luckinbill said del Toro and Brolin would return. In June 2016, Stefano Sollima was hired to direct, with Villeneuve no longer available due to scheduling conflicts. Principal photography began on November 8, 2016 in New Mexico.
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The turnaround for Juárez began in 2012 and has been significant. Kidnappings have plummeted — officially there have been none in 20 months — and the murder rate has fallen from as many as eight a day during the worst times in 2010 to 20 to 30 per month now.
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