De­scent into chaos

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS - Leigh Paatsch


Di­rec­tor: De­nis Vil­leneuve (Pris­on­ers) Star­ring: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Beni­cio Del Toro, Jon Bern­thal, Jeffrey Dono­van

IN Si­cario, we have one of the best films of the year hit­ting us right be­tween the eyes. So brace your­self for what is a mi­nor mas­ter­piece about one of the ma­jor is­sues of our time – the war on drugs.

Di­rec­tor De­nis Vil­leneuve takes us to where he be­lieves the height of the fight­ing is at its most in­tense.

The bat­tle zone is a small cross­sec­tion of the bor­der where the US state of Texas meets the na­tion of Mexico.

As has been the case for decades, ma­jor Mex­i­can drug car­tels can move their il­licit merch into the US at will.

Bring­ing the pro­ceeds back home is al­most as easy. Un­cle Sam’s best and bright­est are at a com­plete loss as to how to stem the tide in ei­ther di­rec­tion. Do­ing it “by the book” has clearly never worked.

Ac­cord­ing to Si­cario, do­ing it “off the books” might be the only vi­able op­tion Amer­ica has left for get­ting a clear shot at a con­stantly shape-chang­ing en­emy. This very ac­com­plished, ex­pertly writ­ten and acted drama drives home its point in sub­tle, yet force­ful fash­ion.

Our sole van­tage point as we peer into a dan­ger­ous shadow world of in­trigue and in­sur­gency is the one in­no­cent char­ac­ter in this tale.

Kate (Emily Blunt) is a low-level FBI door-buster who has been re­cruited to join an un­named US gov­ern­ment task force about to be­gin a black-ops as­sign­ment on Mex­i­can soil.

The prime ob­jec­tive of the mis­sion is with­held from Kate by her two prin­ci­pal li­aisons on this mys­te­ri­ously well-re­sourced new team.

Matt (Josh Brolin) has clearly done some time on the dark side of the CIA. He speaks only in a coded combo of need-to-know in­tel and track-cov­er­ing dou­ble-talk.

All that is known of Ale­jan­dro (Beni­cio Del Toro) is he is some kind of con­nected “con­sul­tant” with a clean grasp of how the Mex­i­cans do their dirty work. He’s no straight talker, ei­ther. “You’re ask­ing me how a watch works,” Ale­jan­dro chides an in­creas­ingly frus­trated Kate. “Just keep an eye on the time.”

Cap­i­tal­is­ing on the sublime cam­er­a­work of Roger Deakins – a bril­liant blend of the hand-held and the hardly vis­i­ble el­e­vates some al­ready-stun­ning set-piece se­quences to a higher level – Si­cario casts an in­tim­i­dat­ing, ir­re­versible spell.

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