Sicario (2015 film)
Sicario is a 2015 American crime-drama film directed by Denis Villeneuve, written by Taylor Sheridan, and starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, and Josh Brolin. It is about 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, prior to a nationwide release on October 2, 2015.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Denis Villeneuve|
|Produced by||Basil Iwanyk
Edward L. McDonnell
|Written by||Taylor Sheridan|
Benicio del Toro
|Music by||Jóhann Jóhannsson|
|Edited by||Joe Walker|
Black Label Media
|Box office||$85 million|
The film received three Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Sound Editing, as well as three BAFTA nominations for Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Music. It was criticized by viewers in Mexico for the depiction of the city of Juarez where part of the plot takes place. A sequel, Soldado, began shooting in November 2016.
In Chandler, Arizona, FBI Agents Kate Macer 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, to apprehend the Sonora Cartel lieutenant Manuel Díaz.
On a private jet to El Paso, Texas, Kate meets Matt's partner, the secretive Alejandro Gillick. 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, one of Díaz's top men. At the border crossing the team preempts an ambush by swiftly killing many Mexican cartel gunmen. At a U.S. 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 wonder for who 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.
At a bar, Reggie introduces Kate to Ted, a friend and local police officer. Kate and Ted go to her apartment and as they are becoming passionate, Kate realizes he also works for the cartel; they struggle, and Ted is strangling Kate when Alejandro rescues her. Alejandro and Matt followed her as bait, suspecting that the cartel would send someone after her, after she made herself known at the bank raid. Alejandro and Matt torture Ted into revealing names of other officers working for Díaz.
They soon learn that Díaz is being re-called to Mexico, but Kate argues they have no jurisdiction in Mexico. Matt condescendingly tells her that he was only using her, as her status as a U.S. law officer granted them, a secret CIA operation, legal permission to operate within the U.S.. Regie advises that he and Kate walk away, but she insists on joining the raid on the tunnel in order to find out more. The team kills all the men in the tunnel, and Alejandro reaches the other end of the tunnel where he 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 punches Matt.
Matt explains that by disabling the Sonora cartel, they are trying to return to a time when a single cartel, Medellín, ran the drug trade. There was an order to the industry and less violence, and until Americans stop using cocaine, this is the best they can hope for. Alejandro, who worked for Medellín, was brought on to assassinate Alarcón. Alarcón had ordered the murder of Alejandro’s wife and daughter, and this is Alejandro's opportunity for revenge.
In Mexico, Alejandro locates Diaz, at gunpoint forces him to continue to Alarcón, and kills off Silvio. Reaching Alarcón’s estate, Alejandro 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 the whole family.
Alejandro appears in Kate's apartment where he forces her at gunpoint to sign a waiver legitimizing the entire operation as legal. He tells her she reminds him of his daughter, and that she isn’t a wolf. As he leaves she aims her pistol at him, but can’t 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, 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 (the Spanish word for 'hitman'), as scripted 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,[better source needed] 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 aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 94%, based on 234 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.
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 through about 2010, and that the city had made progress in restoring peace.
|This section needs expansion with: a prose summary of the most noteworthy nominations and wins; it is never acceptable to have a section without any summary content. You can help by adding to it. (January 2016)|
Lionsgate has commissioned a sequel centering on del Toro's character, titled 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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