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Sicario ([si.ˈka.ɾjo], Spanish for "Hitman") is a 2015 American crime action thriller 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.

Sicario
Sicario poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDenis Villeneuve
Produced by
Written byTaylor Sheridan
Starring
Music byJóhann Jóhannsson
CinematographyRoger Deakins
Edited byJoe Walker
Production
company
Distributed byLionsgate
Release date
  • May 19, 2015 (2015-05-19) (Cannes)
  • September 18, 2015 (2015-09-18) (United States)
Running time
121 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$30 million[2]
Box office$84.9 million[3]

Sicario received praise for its screenplay, direction, musical score, cinematography, and Blunt's 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. Mexican viewers criticised the film's depiction of Ciudad Juárez.[4][5] A sequel, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, was released on June 29, 2018, with Columbia Pictures replacing Lionsgate.

Contents

PlotEdit

In Chandler, Arizona, FBI agents Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) and Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya) lead a raid on a suspected Mexican cartel safehouse, where they discover dozens of hidden decaying corpses and a booby trap that kills two policemen. Following the raid, Kate's boss recommends her for a Department of Justice special joint task force, overseen by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and the secretive Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro), to apprehend the Sonora Cartel lieutenant Manuel Díaz (Bernardo Saracino). Assured that the task force will bring Díaz and those responsible for the safehouse incident to justice, Kate enlists in the operation.

The team travels in force to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to extradite Díaz's brother and henchman Guillermo Díaz (Edgar Arreola). To preempt an ambush, the team kills several Mexican cartel gunmen at the public border checkpoint, shocking Kate. Alejandro tortures Guillermo and learns that the cartel uses a tunnel to smuggle drugs into the U.S.

Reggie and Kate begin to question the task force's illegal and seemingly inexplicable methods. Finally, Matt reveals that the objective is not to apprehend Díaz, as originally suggested, but to disrupt his drug operations to such a degree that Díaz will be summoned back to Mexico by his boss, the elusive Sonora Cartel drug lord Fausto Alarcón. By following Díaz, they plan to bring Alarcón to justice.

To disrupt Díaz's cash flow, the team raids a bank used by his money launderers. Kate and Reggie want to use their findings from the raid to mount a legal case against Díaz, but are ordered to stand down, so as to not jeopardize the operation — much to their frustration. While commiserating at a bar, Reggie introduces Kate to Ted (Jon Bernthal), a friend and Phoenix police officer. Kate and Ted go to her apartment, but as they become passionate, Kate realizes Ted is working with the cartel. In the ensuing struggle, Ted begins strangling Kate, but Alejandro suddenly appears and subdues him. Alejandro and Matt reveal that they used her as bait, knowing the cartel would target her after she foolishly allowed herself to be seen at the bank raid. Alejandro and Matt coerce Ted into revealing the names of other officers working for Díaz.

They soon learn that Díaz is being recalled to Mexico, as they had hoped. Kate questions the good news, pointing out that they have no jurisdiction in Mexico. Matt advises Kate that her and Reggie’s involvement in the operation is simply a technical necessity, as working with U.S. law officers grants the CIA legal auspice to participate in the operation. Angered, Reggie advises that he and Kate leave the task force, but she insists on joining a task force raid on the tunnel to learn more about the operation's true nature. At the Mexican end of the tunnel, Kate witnesses Alejandro kidnapping one of Díaz's drug mules, a corrupt Mexican police officer named Silvio (Maximiliano Hernández). Kate attempts to arrest Alejandro, but he purposely shoots her in the bulletproof vest to incapacitate her, before driving off with Silvio. Realizing that Alejandro is operating illegally with the task force's support, and that there was never any intention of bringing Alarcón and Díaz to justice through legal channels, Kate confronts Matt.

Matt explains that they are attempting to return to a time when a single cartel, Medellín, ran the drug trade. This monopoly gave the U.S. more control. Alejandro, a hitman who worked for Medellín, was brought on to topple the Sonora Cartel by assassinating Alarcón, thus reducing cartel competition. Alejandro's motive is also personal: Alarcón had ordered the murder of Alejandro's wife and daughter back when Alejandro was a prosecutor in Juarez. In Mexico, Alejandro forces Silvio to drive him to Díaz, kills Silvio, and then forces Díaz to continue to Alarcón. Reaching Alarcón's estate, Alejandro kills Díaz, the guards, and the entire Alarcón family, including his wife and two sons.

Alejandro appears in Kate's apartment and forces her, at gunpoint, to sign a statement declaring the operation maintained legal methods. As he leaves, she aims her pistol at him, but cannot bring herself to pull the trigger.

In Nogales, Sonora, Silvio's widow watches her son's soccer game. The game is briefly interrupted by the sound of gunfire, before continuing.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

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 Sicarii), from a screenplay by Taylor Sheridan.[6] It is the first installment in Sheridan's neo-western trilogy exploring crime on "the modern-day American frontier".[7] Black Label Media financed and co-produced with Thunder Road Pictures.[8] Basil Iwanyk produced the film along with Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill, and Thad Luckinbill.[8]

Emily Blunt became involved with the film in April 2014,[9][10] shortly followed by Benicio del Toro.[10] Jon Bernthal and Josh Brolin joined the film in May, and cinematographer Roger Deakins was also hired.[11][12][13] Daniel Kaluuya, Maximiliano Hernández, and Jeffrey Donovan were then cast,[14][15][16] and Jóhann Jóhannsson was hired to compose the film's musical score in August 2014.[17]

Principal photography began on June 30, 2014, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.[18][19]

MusicEdit

Jóhann Jóhannsson was selected to write and compose the score for the movie, making Sicario his second collaboration with director Denis Villeneuve. Jóhannsson's work scoring the movie was highly praised: Sicario was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score, the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Score and the Saturn Award for Best Music.

ReleaseEdit

 
Villeneuve with Josh Brolin, Emily Blunt, and Benicio del Toro at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival premiere of Sicario

In May 2014, Lionsgate acquired the U.S. rights to the film, while Lionsgate International handled the foreign sales.[20] 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.[21] The film had its world premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2015.[22][23] It was then selected to be shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2015.[24][25]

Home mediaEdit

Sicario was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 5, 2016, and on 4K UHD Blu-Ray on March 1, 2016.[26]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

Sicario was a commercial success, grossing $46.9 million in the United States and Canada and $38 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $84.9 million, against a production budget of $30 million.[3]

Released alongside The Martian and The Walk, Sicario was projected to make $8–10 million in its wide release opening weekend.[27] On its first day, the film grossed $4.3 million. In its opening weekend, it grossed $12.1 million, exceeding expectations, and finished behind The Martian and Hotel Transylvania 2.[28] In the second weekend the film made $7.6 million, dropping 38% and finishing fifth.[29]

Critical responseEdit

On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 92%, based on 259 reviews, with an average rating of 8.05/10. 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."[30] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 48 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[31] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[28]

Richard Roeper gave the film an A, calling it one of the year's best, and applauded del Toro's performance, saying:

Dan Jolin from Empire magazine gave the film 5 stars, calling it "a beautifully murky, hard-edged thriller. Quite simply, one of the best films of the year."[33]

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".[34] Chris Ryan of Grantland compared Sicario with the 1979 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 Walter E. Kurtz and Lieutenant Colonel William Kilgore, respectively, from Apocalypse Now.[35]

ControversyEdit

Before the film's release, the mayor of Ciudad Juárez, Enrique Serrano Escobar, urged citizens to boycott it,[4] 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 since made progress in restoring peace.[5]

AccoladesEdit

Among other accolades, the film received three Academy Award nominations, for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Sound Editing.[36]

Themes and analysisEdit

Director Denis Villeneuve said the film was conceived at the height of the violence in Juárez in 2010.[4] According to Sebastian Rotella, an American foreign correspondent and investigative journalist, Sicario examines many aspects of the U.S. War on Drugs against, most generally, drug cartels in Mexico, Central, and South America.[37] He noted 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."[37] Rotella asserted that progress has been made in Mexico, and expressed qualms over the depiction of the film's extralegal "black ops campaign", relative to his experience that most U.S. operations resulted in the legal arrest and prosecution of drug lords.[37]

SequelEdit

Lionsgate commissioned a sequel centering on del Toro's character, subtitled Soldado.[38] The project was overseen by writer Taylor Sheridan.[39] In April 2016, producers Molly Smith and Trent Luckinbill said del Toro and Brolin would return.[40] In June 2016, Italian filmmaker Stefano Sollima was hired to direct, with Villeneuve no longer available due to scheduling conflicts.[38][41] Principal photography began on November 8, 2016 in New Mexico.[42] Sicario: Day of the Soldado was released in the United States on June 29, 2018 to generally positive reviews.[43]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Sicario (15)". British Board of Film Classification. July 27, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  2. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (September 3, 2015). "Denis Villeneuve returns to morality's shifting line with 'Sicario". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Sicario (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Burnett, Victoria (October 11, 2015). "Portrayal of Juárez in 'Sicario' Vexes Residents Trying to Move Past Dark Times". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 4, 2016. Retrieved January 17, 2016. 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.
  5. ^ a b Nájar, Alberto (October 7, 2015). "¿Por qué la película "Sicario" enoja tanto a Ciudad Juárez?" (in Spanish). BBC. BBC Mundo. Archived from the original on November 14, 2015. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  6. ^ Travers, Peter (September 17, 2015). "Sicario Movie Review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  7. ^ Thompson, Anne (June 21, 2018). "'Sicario: Day of the Soldado': Benicio Del Toro Says It's Better Than The Doors' First Album". IndieWire. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Fleming Jr, Mike (December 6, 2013). "'Prisoners' Helmer Eyeing Tense Mexican Border Crime Drama 'Sicario' For Black Label". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  9. ^ Kroll, Justin (April 2, 2014). "Emily Blunt to Star in 'Prisoners' Director's Next Pic 'Sicario'". Variety. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (April 4, 2014). "Benicio del Toro Teams Up with Emily Blunt in 'Sicario'". Variety. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  11. ^ Ford, Rebecca (May 29, 2014). "'Walking Dead' Star Jon Bernthal Joins Denis Villeneuve's 'Sicario'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  12. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (May 30, 2014). "Josh Brolin Joins 'Sicario'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  13. ^ Raup, Jordan (May 23, 2014). "Roger Deakins to Reteam With the Coens and Denis Villeneuve This Year". TheFilmStage.com. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  14. ^ Siegel, Tatiana. "'Skins' Star Daniel Kaluuya to Co-Star in Denis Villenueve's 'Sicario'". The Hollywood Reporter (June 6, 2014). Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  15. ^ Yamato, Jen (June 24, 2014). "'Sicario' Adds 'Captain America 2′s Maximiliano Hernandez". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  16. ^ Yamato, Jen (July 21, 2014). "Jeffrey Donovan Joins 'Sicario'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
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  19. ^ "On the Set for 6/30/14: Point Break Starts, Kevin James Wraps Up Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2". SSNInsider.com. June 30, 2014. Archived from the original on July 3, 2017. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
  20. ^ McClintock, Pamela (May 6, 2014). "Cannes: Lionsgate Snaps Up U.S. Rights to 'Sicario'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  21. ^ "'Sicario' Gets Fall Release Date; Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin Star". Deadline Hollywood. February 23, 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  22. ^ "In Competition - Feature Films: Sicario". Festival de Cannes. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  23. ^ "Screenings Guide". Festival de Cannes. May 6, 2015. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
  24. ^ Kay, Jeremy (July 28, 2015). "Toronto to open with 'Demolition'; world premieres for 'Trumbo', 'The Program'". ScreenDaily.com. Archived from the original on July 29, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  25. ^ "Special Presentations: Sicario". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on October 2, 2015. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  26. ^ "Sicario DVD Release Date January 5, 2016". DVDs Release Dates. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  27. ^ McClintock, Pamela (September 29, 2015). "Box-Office Preview: 'Martian' Set to Rocket to No. 1; 'The Walk' Opens in Imax". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  28. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 5, 2015). "'The Martian' Defies 'Gravity' On Friday; 'Everest' & 'The Walk' Largely Earthbound". Deadline Hollywood.
  29. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (October 11, 2015). "20th Century Fox 'Martian' Has More Fuel Than Expected; 'Pan' Walks Plank; 'Steve Jobs' Popular In NY & LA – Sunday Postmortem". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
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  33. ^ Jolin, Dan (October 5, 2015). "Sicario Review". Empire. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  34. ^ Bradshaw, Peter. "Sicario review – Emily Blunt at the sharp end in war on drugs". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  35. ^ Ryan, Chris. "Are My Methods Unsound? Why 'Sicario' Is the 'Apocalypse Now' of the Drug War". Grantland.com. Archived from the original on December 14, 2017. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  36. ^ "Oscar Nominations: The Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. January 14, 2016.
  37. ^ a b c Rotella, Sebastian (2015). "Sicario's Dirty War on Mexican Cartels is Not Yet Reality". ProPublica. Retrieved October 30, 2015.
  38. ^ a b Fleming, Mike, Jr. (June 1, 2016). "Gomorra's Stefano Sollima to Helm Benicio Del Toro & Josh Brolin In 'Sicario' Sequel 'Soldado'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  39. ^ Lang, Brent (September 21, 2015). "'Sicario' Sequel in the Works at Lionsgate". Variety. Archived from the original on October 1, 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2015.
  40. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (March 31, 2016). "Demolition' Producers Talk Indie Film Strategy, 'Sicario 2' Plans and Move to TV". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on June 2, 2016. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  41. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (June 1, 2016). "'Sicario' Sequel Lands Its Director". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
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  43. ^ Clopton, Eric (June 26, 2018). "'Sicario: Day of the Soldado' Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved June 22, 2018.

External linksEdit