REVIEW: SICARIO (2015)

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SICARIO (2015)

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Sicario is an intense and gripping crime thriller that opens with an FBI raid on a house owned by a suspected drug lord and the gruesome discovery made within. Not only does by-the-book agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) discover bodies filling the walls of the house, but a booby trap claims the lives of two officers. Wanting to catch those responsible, Kate is asked to join a special ops team with mysterious government operative Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and even more mysterious ‘advisor’ Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). As the operation to bring down drug lord Manuel Diaz (Bernardo P. Saracino) and his boss begins and Kate is taken deep into the Mexican underworld, she starts to question who her new partners really are and what their real agenda is.

Written by Taylor Sheridan and directed by Denis Villeneuve, this is a very involving and sometimes shocking thriller about an idealistic FBI agent who may not be ready to deal with the realities of the war on drugs. We are taken inside this special ops team knowing as little about these men as she does and watch as she is drawn into a world she isn’t prepared for. Not only are the people they are pursuing capable of horrible atrocities, but her mysterious team members aren’t above breaking rules and crossing lines to accomplish their objectives as well. The line between good guys and bad guys becomes increasingly blurred and Kate is our voice of reason being drowned out in a world were reason and morality have long since been abandoned. The deeper she gets, the more she realizes she is in a world she doesn’t want to be in. As for her new team, they seem to have their own agenda and methods, that Kate is no longer sure she wants to be a part of. It’s a rude awakening for her and Villeneuve opens our eyes along with her. It can be a very intense ride and there are a few punch-in-the-gut scenes as true agenda’s and identities are revealed. This is a top notch thriller with some nail-biting action and one that takes us into world’s we don’t see on CNN or even NCIS for that matter…a world where there are no heroes or villains, just players in a brutal game. It also takes the time to give us a glimpse of what life is like for those that live closest to it. It’s an intense, suspenseful and well-crafted thriller that takes a noble woman and places her in a violent world without rules that she is not prepared to live in. It’s harrowing and skillfully told journey.

The cast are top notch and all do good work. Emily Blunt again shows she is a versatile actress who can take on tough physical roles with dramatic intensity. Her Kate is a woman with both a sense of duty and morals who is forced into a world were the book is thrown out the window along with morality and even the law she has sworn to uphold. She teams with men no better than those she vowed to bring to justice and Blunt plays the toll on Kate well. Josh Brolin is strong as the team leader shrouded in mystery. From the beginning we know there is more to this man than meets the eye and Brolin keeps pace as Sheridan’s script slowly unravels the layers of secrecy to let us know who the man really is and what his true agenda entails. Del Toro really impresses with a character that is soft spoken one minute, yet has no hesitation in torturing a suspect if it means getting what he wants. He is shrouded in mystery as is Brolin, but the man we are finally to discover is one you may not expect. The film switches focus to him a bit in the last act and it is here we discover his true identity and his real mission and it will really tear Kate apart when this strange man she starts to bond with, is unmasked. We also have a great supporting cast including Victor Garber, Marvel familiar face Maximiliano Hernández, Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal and Burn Notice‘s Jeffrey Donovan.

This is a strong thriller that can hit hard at times and takes you on a journey into a world of questionable morals and tactics with a character who has always played by the rules and tried to do what’s right. She is surrounded by men with their own methods and agenda’s operating in another world beneath the one she knows. There is some taunt suspense, some gripping action and some disturbing moments as Agent Kate Macer is drawn deeper into a war we only see the surface of on TV. There are some messages here, but they are not intrusive and the acting really  makes these characters work, especially when the layers are slowly peeled off and true natures are revealed. A highly recommended thriller.

-MonsterZero NJ

  3 and 1/2 bullets.

raid rating

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 (2000)

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BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 (2000)

While this Blair Witch sequel is not that good, it’s not quite as bad as it’s reputation suggests. Sequel has some good ideas, such as being about the mania caused by the movie The Blair Witch Project and not a direct sequel to the film itself and tells the story of a group of oddball characters that seek to find out if there is some truth behind the movie and if there really is a witch that inspired the film. Obviously some weird stuff starts to happen to them as they investigate and death and madness soon follow.

The biggest problem with Blair Witch 2 is simply not doing anything interesting with the ideas director Joe Berlinger and his 3 co-writers, Dick Beebe, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, have come up with. The film is a lot of talk and finger pointing as strange occurrences start to make the characters unravel and turn on each other. Video evidence changes and disappears, characters vanish and then turn up dead, but this spooky activity never comes together to form a solid story. It’s almost like a bunch or random acts that are only thinly related. By the time we find out what happened, we really aren’t that interested anymore, despite the fact that better handled, it could have been very unsettling. It also doesn’t help that the film is peppered with police interviews and scenes that occur after-the-fact and thus we know what’s coming. It neuters any suspense the film might be building. There are some mildly spooky images and sequences throughout and a few bloody moments, but not enough to make this film work completely or consistently. I appreciate the effort to do something different then a generic sequel, but the filmmakers just didn’t take their concept far enough. At least there is a spooky score by Carter Burwell and some cool songs on the soundtrack CD. (see track listing below)

The cast is fine, though the characters are stereotypical Hollywood cliche’s such as the handsome con-artist with a past (Jeffrey Donovan), the hot Wiccan (Erica Leerhsen), the attractive yuppie couple (Tristen Skyler and Stephen Barker Turner) and the hot Emo Goth chick (Kim Director). My biggest peeve cast-wise, though, is that the actor, Lanny Flaherty, playing the local sheriff, is so awful that even had the film been better he would have ruined it. Yes, he’s that bad.

Director Joe Berlinger gives the film some decent atmosphere and some creepy moments, but doesn’t seem to be able to assemble all his parts into an effective whole. Apparently the film was taken away from him and re-edited with new footage shot to make it more of a horror film, but if this is better than what he delivered, then I doubt I want to ever see a director’s cut…though, as a film geek, I’d probably watch it if it ever surfaced. Again, some cool ideas wasted without anywhere to go with them.

Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) hot goth chicks.

blair witch 2 rating

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CD SOUNDTRACK TRACK LIST

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  1. The Reckoning- Godhead
  2. Lie Down- P.O.D.
  3. Goodbye Lament- Tony Iommi/Dave Grohl
  4. Dragula- Rob Zombie
  5. Mind- System Of A Down
  6. Stick It Up- Slaves On Dope
  7. Suicide Is Painless- Marilyn Manson
  8. Soul Auctioneer- Death In Vegas
  9. Ps- Project 86
  10. Old Enough- Nickleback
  11. Feel Alive- U.P.O.
  12. Tommy (Don’t Die)- Steakknife
  13. Arcarsenal- At The Drive In
  14. Human- Elastica
  15. Feel Good Hit Of The Summer- Queens Of The Stone Age
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