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Dhaka Tribune

Sicario: At the eye of the storm

Update : 18 Dec 2015, 06:08 PM

Sicario is not only considered as one of the best films of 2015, but it is also one of the best thrillers since Silence of the Lambs (1991). There is a good chance that Benecio del Toro, for his role as the revengeful gunman, might win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. 

Director, Denis Villeneuve tells the story unpretentiously without any bells-and-whistles. The subject of the movie dates back to the Columbia’s Medellin drug-ring, however today, there are at least six major Mexican cartels at war with each other to take control of the $40 billion American drug-market (1kg of cocaine priced at $10,000 in Mexico and sells from $30,000 to $100,000 in US).

Emily Blunt starred as the baffled FBI agent who accidentally stumbles upon 42 dead bodies in the shocking opening sequence. The Special Activities Division agent from CIA, played deceitfully by Josh Brolin, immediately asks her to join his team at the Mexican border in a quest for arresting Guillermo, the right-hand-man of drug lord, Manuel Diaz, the main perpetrator responsible for the killings. Although what started off as a three-day capture mission soon turned out to be a military covert operation.

On their way back, at the Bridge of the Americas, after apprehending Guillermo, they got stuck in traffic, which then turned out to be one of the best shoot-outs since Heat (1995). While the FBI is accountable for every bullet, the CIA seems to be accountable for nothing. It soon becomes clear they are really after cartel boss Fausto Alarcon. 

Sicario looks as authentic and immediate as Dog Day Afternoon (1975). Here’s to why Roger Deakins is considered as a great cinematographer: we see soldiers in silhouette, against a pale-blue sky, slowly sinking towards a fire-red horizon, and then disappearing at the bottom of the frame, into total darkness. Thus creating a visual metaphor for the drift from hopelessness towards hatred and eventually violence.

Johann Johannsson’s soundtrack is more like horror music, where crushing waves slowly come closer, then smolder into open cadences (Tracks: Beast, Target, Convoy); in only two instances do we sense any emotion, where we hear voices of the dead plead for resolution (Tracks: Desert Music, Alejandro’s Song).

Another must-see film of 2015 is Matthew Heineman’s daring documentary Cartel Land, which gives us a rare insight into the Mexican drug wars.

Sicario never promises us any solution. It just reminds us once again that killing the problem is never the same as solving it.  

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