Author Topic: Sicario  (Read 5878 times)

philip918

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Sicario
« on: February 17, 2016, 01:58:40 PM »
This is probably the most acclaimed film this year that I just don't understand the affection for and I'd like to hear what people took away from it.

For me, despite how seriously it seems to take itself, the actual events became more and more cartoonish. Blunt's character came across as woefully naive and one-dimensional, insisting on things being done by the book, because... I don't know why, other than to establish the conflict between her and Brolin.

The reveal about the CIA's plan seems like it would have been surprising 30 years ago, and the final act sees del Toro turn into a full-on James Bond, popping off head shots with more speed and precision than most action heroes.

The final scene didn't work for me either. It would have been interesting if Blunt took the shot. Instead, her character remains exactly the same. Willfully naive and by the book.

I enjoyed the tone, the score, and some sequences, but overall this fell really flat.

"If God gives you lemons find a new God."

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Sicario
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2016, 10:06:09 PM »
I don't get it either. At all. We follow a main character that is completely lost during the entire movie and look at a CIA operation through her eyes. She doesn't act and brings nothing to the action so what is the point of her ? All we have is the operation and how it goes down, with a supposed reveal. The movie says nothing much and wasn't much fun.
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verbALs

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Re: Sicario
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2016, 01:07:17 AM »
Ok I'm awake early looking for something to write so I'll bite; though "I don't get it, please explain why you like it?" questions generally provoke disinterest from me (everyone can like or dislike what they want- "I don't get it" translates as "I didn't like the film so I didn't bother thinking about it" which is a perfectly fair reaction....so why ask someone else to justify themselves).

Blunt's performance should be being recognised awards-wise. Del toro was up for a BAFTA and they play opposite sides of the same coin and neither performance works without the other. So that indicates how much I liked the film. If Blunt wandered around in a daze for two hours she would be doing it in fine form. She has carved out a niche for herself as an action star with that previous Tom Cruise film and the director is using her persona in this film.

You can see that the film follows her PoV. She doesn't know exactly what the CIA are doing even though it is made clear early on they plan to "dramatically overreact" (film line of the year). In a "need to know" world what do you think she would be told. When del Toro tells her draw her weapon it's a perfect example of how they treat her. It takes a long time before she can nail down who she is working with. Even that basic information isn't something she needs to know. The interesting question is why? She's a badge that the CIA, who can't operate legally inside the US border, can hold up at the appropriate moment. The film discards her as soon as it leaves the US; entering the tunnel. if you aren't comfortable with the attitude the film itself has towards the characters then it looks like a PoV switch which it isn't. It is making the point of how ineffective local law enforcement strategies are against an international criminal operation. It also shows how dramatically over reactive US military and foreign policy can get. The idea of the CIA solving funding problems by running drug operations isn't a new one. Read the graphic novel "Brought to Light" or Ellroys "American Tabloid" trilogy. The first two examples I can think of.

Now I'm writing plot summaries. Any plot summary should be followed by a disclaimer. Movies don't have to be about plot. His previous film Enemy is a good example. It establishes a paranoid oppressive tone. What actually happens is somewhat a side issue. Transporting Blunt to El Paso and then straight into Juarez to that border crossing shoot out where she barely gets on the same page in time to shoot the guy before he shoots her is a similarly dizzying tornado of confusion. But they say why they are going to Juarez. What else do you need to know. Plot lines or Roger Deakins cinematography? A personal choice is forget what's happening and look at how it's happening.

I think the film asks you to let go. Let it happen the way it is happening to Blunt. I admired her reactions given that a lot of the time all she can do is react. She gets at some truths. Learning that Brolin isn't exactly a DoD subcontractor for instance. Now her male FBI colleague takes a male confrontational approach and the CIA bat him away. Blunt expresses her personal need to get on this train. She can see FBI methods didn't stop her team getting blown up and accepts other less orthodox methods are the way to go. Hence how apt " dramatically overreact" sounds to her. Watching someone whose soul purpose is to provide surface legitimacy to the worlds largest military operation who would probably drop a nuclear bomb if they were sure it would stop the problem is extremely compelling.

If you turned up for an action film I can see the problem. The only difference here is I surfed this wave to the end and you got off way before the end. I wouldn't say I don't get it if it was me. I'd say I'm not interested enough to bother thinking about it and move on. It happens all the time. I'm not interested enough to watch it again (a familiar refrain). A film that can't do enough to get me interested first time even it was ambiguous in its delivery isn't worth a second. So no don't watch it again. Leave it and move on. Like I say I just wanted something to write about. A film doesn't need to make sense to be thrilling and stimulating. Does it?

Thanks for a giving me something to write about.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

Teproc

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Re: Sicario
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2016, 01:25:18 AM »
I actually think it works better as an action/thriller than anything else. Josh Brolin's character is basically a shaved ape and Del Toro's is nothing but yet another psychopath, and Villeneuve sends completely mixed messages about them, from the choice to change perspectives to that ending, which end up making me appreciate the film for its setpieces and Blunt's performance, but not much more.

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Sicario
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2016, 01:32:50 AM »
I still say I don't get it. I don't require and was not expecting an action movie. But that is one of the directions Villeneuve could have gone in and I would have understood it, with Blunt being a proactive main character. Then there is the version of the movie where she does not exist and we only follow Brolin and his team ; and there are a couple of other similar different versions that I would have understood. I maintain that I don't get the movie because I don't get this fundamental choice. Blunt feels pointless to me as a character and as a plot device. I don't need her new guy perspective for the immersion and she has too little development and storyline for me to be interested in what happens to her. The meat of the movie is the operation and she feels like a streak of superfluous greenery to plate the entrée. You can admire her reactions, that is one thing, which I do not necessarily disagree with. But they do not go anywhere interesting enough to justify her existence. The final face off is not enough to merit an additional character, especially since, as you said, all of this is really nothing fresh.
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verbALs

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Re: Sicario
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2016, 01:55:42 AM »
Like I said you aren't interested in what the film is interested in doing. After a lot of films I stopped wishing the film had been what I wanted and got more out of following what the director seemed to be interested in. My perspective is nowhere near as compelling as that of someone who has reached the heights of making movies. So I stowed it. I'm just as likely to reach the end of a film and go "meh" but I move on. Sicario and Enemy are really good examples of this. There's so much more in the tone than the plot.

Some movies make me feel like thinking about them at all will only make it worse. I saw a clip of Ex Machina on the baftas and had the same "don't make me think about that film" feeling. She says "what if you fail me" in the test. What you mean the test that she fails by being a transparent plastic robot who isn't even trying to pass for human? I watched EM it was alright but never again. Not even for a second.

So no it's not that you don't get it. It's that you Aren't interested enough to try. How about I just say you are right there's nothing to get? I think that's your point isn't it? I can see that especially for those amongst us who gravitate towards more ambiguous work that explanations of what a film means get less and less worth the effort of talking about. Nailing down exactly what something means wasn't necessary in the first place and the effort to do it could actually stand in the way of nailing down what a film FEELS like. Also their reaction is so personal to them that trying to explain it is a futile effort. They have evolved like Kubricks superbaby. No need to talk or write. Just think..........MAN! To those people, those minds I salute you! I'm still enjoying bashing my head against the wall for  the sheer writerly wordiness of it all! 8)
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Sicario
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2016, 02:13:28 AM »
I never compare a movie with what I wish it were because I have no expectations. I can however condemn it for being something that does not compel me. And I was interested in the film up to the point where it did not go anywhere I found interesting. In fact, I am not sure what it is trying to be: commentary on the drug war as of now, a thriller, a work in mood and suspense ? It feels rather vague and possible undecided.
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verbALs

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Re: Sicario
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2016, 02:23:16 AM »
It's a commentary on the drug war. It's a commentary on the US tendency to dramatically overreact that affects us all. America might want to challenge Russia or IS but they won't do it over Iowa or Idaho and they refugees won't be heading their way.

Now I have given you examples of how it says enough for that to be clear. It probably invests about half a dozen lines doing that in the whole film. But it's there. So I was interested enough to be listening and you weren't. Nobody is right or wrong. Are they?

Your feeling that Villeneuve isn't clear is absolutely right. We agree. But I already mentioned where he says enough so repeating myself wouldn't help either of us. I can't really ask you the question what was missing because it's Villeneuve version of the film that was made not yours. Nothing was missing it was all there because that was what was made. Like every film.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2016, 02:25:05 AM by verbALs »
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Sicario
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2016, 02:24:51 AM »
Again, I have no version, I merely comment on the end result and judge if I like it or not. In this case, if the aim is to make a movie about the drug war, I think there was room to do a better job.
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verbALs

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Re: Sicario
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2016, 02:30:32 AM »
You mentioned two versions of what you think would be better. One not involving Blunt at all. Her presence is essential to the form the film takes. The CIAs attitude to her is precisely what Villeneuve wants to explore....as far as I can see from my humble imperfect viewpoint. It's more important than what happens. FBI have a playbook. The CIA don't. And the CIA influence foreign affairs militarily so they influence our countries. Don't you wish you had watched that movie cos I did. It was great! ;D and I could still be completely wrong and only Villeneuve may know and maybe even he doesn't. Art! Reflecting life where certainty is a real Don Quixote type deal.

Be assured that when you don't get a film someone out there is thinking "well I did" and that when you completely get it and explain it somebody else is still thinking I don't get it. It's circular as an argument.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2016, 02:32:56 AM by verbALs »
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy