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Trivia / Goofs
Summary / Analysis
Times of India
During a routine but dangerous raid in a dusty, sun-baked town close to the US-Mexico border, two of agent Kate Macer's (Blunt) squad members are killed by an IED. She had also stumbled upon a rather unsettling discovery inside the house they were raiding. Macer then volunteers to be part of a strike group whose mission is to take down a drug cartel.
Be it the fact that this film deals with modern-day drug wars along the US-Mexico border, or the movie's ominous tone, you might find yourself reminded about both Steven Soderbergh's Traffic (that also starred Del Toro) and - also directed by Villeneuve - Prisoners at various points during the movie. The former for the content (drug wars) and the latter, for the pacing and immersion. But that's where any semblance of common ground ends.
For starters, the perspective in Sicario is entirely different. The movie is a revelatory look at not only the vast and complex nature of the drug trade in that part of the world, but it also highlights the unorthodox means the good guys (read: the authorities) have to take to try and dismantle, or more realistically, cripple the trade.
After stumbling upon something decidedly dangerous during an operation in Chandler, Arizona during which two FBI agents are killed, Macer (a Special Weapons and Tactics hotshot) volunteers to join an elite team created by the Department of Defense to take the fight to a cartel boss' doorstep. Macer wants revenge but she also wants to do it by the book. But Matt Graver (Brolin, completely on point here), a DoD potentiary, has no qualms about bending rules. As does his partner, a Colombian named Alejandro (Del Toro, fantastic) who speaks little but gets a lot done. On her first mission, Macer realizes that they will actually be heading to Juarez in Mexico, rather than El Paso. It's the first of many surprises she's going to have.
Sicario is heavy on action and gritty realism. This is without a doubt, one of the best movies out this year.
Denis Villeneuve describes the film as a dark poem.
Victor Garber and Josh Brolin previously appeared in Milk (2008).
Emily Blunt's character smokes Indian Cherry cigarettes. The same brand is in the bedroom of Silvio, the corrupt Mexican police officer.
Emily Blunt based Kate Macer's character on one of the FBI agents she spoke to in preparation for the role, whom she described as "shy" and had a "loner quality" to her.
The thermal vision shots in the film were shot with a thermal vision camera and they were not added in the post-production.
While filming in Mexico, Emily Blunt got struck with diarrhea. In the scene where they are driving to Juarez, her character looks sweaty and pasty as a result of Blunt's illness.
While Benicio Del Toro's character is frequently silent in the movie, he initially had more lines. "In the original script, the character explained his background several times to Kate," Del Toro says. "And that gave me information about who this guy was, but it felt a little stiff to have someone you just met 15 minutes ago suddenly telling you what happened to him and who he is." Working with director Denis Villeneuve, Del Toro began cutting some of his dialogue to preserve the mystery of who his character is; Villeneuve estimates they cut 90 percent of what Del Toro was originally intended to say by screenwriter Taylor Sheridan. Like Del Toro, Villeneuve saw power in stripping the character down to a brooding silence, stating that dialogue belongs to plays and "movies are about movement, character, and presence, and Benicio had all that."
Denis Villeneuve wanted Emily Blunt for the role after he saw her in The Young Victoria.
Josh Brolin also stars in Everest. Both movies are at the theatres at the same time.
Jon Bernthal, Josh Brolin, Maximiliano Hernandez, and Benicio Del Toro are all involved with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bernthal plays Frank Castle/Punisher (Daredevil), Brolin plays Thanos (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron), Hernandez plays Agent Sitwell (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agents of SHIELD) and Del Toro plays The Collector (Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy)
The word Sicario derives from the Latin word "Sicarius", meaning "dagger men". The term was used by Romans in the Province of Judea to describe Jewish Zealots who killed Roman citizens using a "sicae" or small dagger hidden in their cloaks. There were so many murders in the Providence of Judea around the I Century a.C. that the figure of "Sicarius" was codified in Roman Law (Lex Cornelia de Sicariis et Veneficis - Cornelian Law for Stabbers and Poisoners) of 81 a.C. These words also derive from the word "sicae", which means to slice. The word Sicario is used in both Spanish and Portuguese.
During a secret mission in a small town in Arizona, FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Teams agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), her partner Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya), and the rest of her team discover dozens of corpses within the walls of a house along with an IED in the backyard shed, which killed two officers.
Her boss, Dave Jennings (Victor Garber), recommends her to Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), a Department of Defense adviser leading a team of elite agents who are searching for the men responsible, one of them being cartel boss Manuel Diaz (Bernardo P. Saracino). Kate agrees to volunteer, eager to finally make a difference.
On the plane to El Paso, Texas, Kate meets Matt's partner, Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro). She learns en route that they will actually be going to Juarez, Mexico instead, where they will extract a prisoner, Guillermo (one of Diaz's top men), for questioning. While crossing back onto American soil, Matt, Alejandro, and their team realize cartel thugs are attempting to intercept them in a traffic jam, and the team is forced to kill the cartel men when they get out of their cars and attempt to capture Guillermo. Kate is appalled by the lack of concern for civilian safety and procedure, especially when operating outside of U.S. borders, but Matt tells her that's how they have to operate against the cartel. After interrogating and torturing Guillermo, Matt and Alejandro learn the details of Diaz's hideout.
While Alejandro and Matt question a group of Mexican migrants for more information, Kate calls Reggie to join her, also acting as emotional support. With the help of several of the migrants who know the U.S.-Mexico border well, they tell Alejandro and Matt the exact whereabouts of a tunnel that the cartel uses to get its drugs into the U.S. When Kate and Reggie demand answers, Matt tells them that their goal is to cause such a disruption in Diaz's drug operations that he will be called down to Mexico to meet with his boss. Matt and his team are interested in finding Diaz's boss, drug lord Fausto Alarcon (Julio Cedillo), who he said no one can find because he "is a ghost." Matt then moves ahead by following Diaz's money launderers to the bank where they deposit his money and are then arrested. Diaz's accounts are then frozen. Kate, believing they can arrest Diaz with this information, gets records of the transactions, but Matt forbids her from going forward, telling her that they are working toward a bigger goal than just arresting Diaz. After reporting this to Dave, he tells her that he has no authority in what Matt's team is doing, but that if she is worried about operating outside the boundaries, the boundaries have expanded and she is no longer bound by the same laws as she was while working only for the FBI.
Infuriated, Kate and Reggie drink at a bar, where he introduces her to one of his colleagues, a local cop named Ted (Jon Bernthal). As they begin to have sex in her apartment, she discovers a rubber wristband in his possession of the same type that was used to bundle Diaz's laundered money. Trying to restrain him, a struggle ensues, which ends with Ted nearly killing Kate, but Alejandro, alerted by the noise, stops him and beats him. After Alejandro and Matt threaten the lives of his family and himself, Ted gives the names of all other local cops working for Diaz.
The next morning, Matt and his team prepare to follow Diaz, who has been called back to Alarcon. Under the cover of night, they raid the tunnel, which is really just a distraction so that Alejandro can sneak through to the other side. Once there, he kidnaps one of Diaz's mules, a Mexican police officer named Silvio (Maximiliano Hernandez), who refers to Alejandro as "Medellin." Kate follows Alejandro against her orders, and manages to overhear this. She attempts to arrest Alejandro, who shoots her in her bulletproof vest and tells her to return to the U.S. Alejandro then drives away with Silvio. At the entrance, Kate attacks Matt, demanding answers. Matt explains that their goal is to restore power to the Medellin Cartel from Colombia, who are controlled by the CIA to some degree. By putting one cartel in charge of all the numerous factions, there will be some semblance of order in the drug trafficking, and that is the best that the U.S. can hope for at this time.
Alejandro and Silvio manage to catch up with Diaz, and after Silvio pulls Diaz over and makes him discard his weapon, Alejandro kills Silvio and wounds Diaz. Diaz then drives Alejandro to Alarcon's estate, where Alejandro kills Diaz and Alarcon's guards, and then finds Alarcon and his family eating dinner. Alarcon, who had brutally murdered Alejandro's wife and daughter when Alejandro was a prosecutor in Juarez, mocks Alejandro at first, asking him if the cartel is really any different than the Colombian cartel he now works for and if Alejandro's wife would approve of the man he has become. Alejandro kills Alarcon's wife and two sons and then finally shoots Alarcon.
The next morning, Alejandro sneaks back into Kate's apartment, where he gives her a waiver to sign stating that everything they did together was "by the book." Ashamed and dishonored, she refuses, but finally relents when Alejandro puts her own gun to her head, telling her that she would be committing suicide. Before he leaves, he tells Kate she should move to a small town, where the law still exists, as she is not cut out for her line of work. Kate then points her gun at him from her balcony, and after he stops and turns to face her, she lowers her weapon, allowing Alejandro to walk away. In Mexico, Silvio's now-widowed wife attends her son's soccer game, which is briefly interrupted by gunfire heard in the distance.
Seriously ?? Is this really a movie ...or some documentary ??? There is absolutely nothing thrilling or adventurous happening...and the FBI is so listless. That FBI heroine is obviously there only for glamor value...and not a good one at that too, sadly.