“Sicario” – A Slice in the Border War Review

“Sicario” means “hit man” in Spanish.

"Sicario" (Rotten Tomatoes)

“Sicario” (Rotten Tomatoes)

Before I begin this review, I have these two raspberry colored elephants to clear:

  1. During some of the action scenes, Emily Blunt reminds me of the character she played in “Edge of Tomorrow.”
  2. Benicio Del Toro’s eyes are brighter.

“Before I was even in high school, I had dark circles under my eyes. Rumor was that I was a junkie. I have dark circles under my eyes, deal with it.”
– Benicio Del Toro

Let’s continue.

“Sicario” is directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Taylor Sheridan. Emily Blunt stars as FBI agent Kate Macer. Opposite Blunt’s formidable presence are Josh Brolin as Matt Graver, and Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro.

“Sicario” a tough, suspenseful movie, with a subtle damper on the gore, is a lesson in the efficiencies of: going off book and less is more.

“She’s not even scratching the surface doing things by the book.” Emily Blunt

Kate, an FBI agent, leads a strike on a house while looking for hostages. As they ‘clear’ the warlord’s house, a gunshot blown hole in the wall exposes a rechid scene of a gruesome lifestyle.

Dead, standing bodies insu-lace the plastered walls of the hostel.


Graver is brusque and often wears a flippant grin on his face. Completing the trio is Del Toro’s Alejandro, the quiet but deadly mysterious consultant, played with brooding complexity and charming machismo. Meet “Sicario.”

Kate is the prime candidate to participate in Graver’s off the grid task to catch the real people behind this rechid scene.

Kate, Matt and Alejandro plan in "Sicario." Rotten Tomatoes

Kate, Matt and Alejandro plan in “Sicario.” (Rotten Tomatoes)

The “chemistry” between this threesome is immediate and eventually cooperative.

To ease all of this hot tension, and next to Kate, is her doting partner, Reggie Wayne, played by Daniel Kaluuya. Reggie and Kate soon learn how playing off book can keep you from making deadly mistakes.

We get a taste of how this ill-fated lifestyle entangles “regular” people and officials into the cartel normal.  It’s ‘normal’ to watch as black FBI caravans posse into the cartel’s land. Black SUVs drive by low hanging fruit (butchered bodies) that keep others in check.

This movie is efficient with its violence. This makes for shorter gun fights. (Is that a bad thing?) It was skillfully executed, and kept the suspense going.

Lines were minimized and visualized instead.

“..Cinematographer Roger Deakins can suggest menace and moral ambiguity by letting the camera slowly creep-glide into a performer’s personal space (what Villeneuve calls the visual equivalent of “putting pressure on your characters”)”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/mexican-cartels-and-wet-willies-the-story-behind-sicario-20150928#ixzz3r9RKWBvp

“Sicario” exceeded my high expectations.

I liked this movie. I didn’t want to miss a moment. I was on the edge of my recliner, so to speak, stretched out and holding onto the arm rests for comfort, for many scenes. (I did take a quick break, runtime is 121 minutes. I advise you take care of all of your business before you enter the theater!)

Check out “Sicario” if only to get a small taste of this other side of the border! Remember, it’s a movie, representing a sliver of the pie at best.

Moral debris is left for the audience to figure out. Where do the pieces fall for you?







“Bridge of Spies” and Hollow Nickels Review

Tom Hanks (and Steven Spielberg) know how to pick movies that work for classic entertainment!

Tom Hanks stars as James Donovan in "Bridge of Spies." (Jaap Buitendijk)

Tom Hanks stars as James Donovan in “Bridge of Spies.” (Jaap Buitendijk; NY Daily News)

“Bridge of Spies,” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, as lawyer James Donovan, is one of those entertaining and suspenseful movies. It doesn’t matter if you know the ending to this biography drama. The movie fills in the middle in a way many will enjoy watching to see the already forgone conclusion – the pilot and the spy get traded on the bridge.

Thankfully, there’s more to the story than most of us know, and as a result, this movie hits many marks for thriller and history fans to enjoy.

“Bridge of Spies” is based on the true story of the capture of Russian spy, Col. Rudolph Abel, or so he was called.

Young Jim Bozart is rewarded by the NYPD for discovering the hollow nickel which led to uncovering a Russian spy ring.

Young Jim Bozart is rewarded by the NYPD for discovering the hollow nickel which led to uncovering a Russian spy ring. (NY Daily News)

The NY Daily News gives a vivid account of how the spy was found out. A 13 year old newsboy, Jim Bozart tripped on a stairwell and collected his scattered coins from a 50 cent tip he had just received. Bozart noticed that one of the nickels had cracked apart and had

“a square of something when he held it against the stairway window. At home, his living room lamp revealed tiny rows of numerals.

After playing stickball and getting some ice cream, Bozart gave the nickel to his friend’s father, a new York city police detective, who passed it on to the FBI.

It took four years to decode, but it revealed the presence of an illegal KGB ‘resident,’ Col. Rudolf Abel (one of many aliases he used).”

To read the whole story see NY Daily News:


This accidental discovery led to the capture of the spy. Bozart does not make it into this movie, but his role only adds more to heighten the interest in this story.

Back to the movie, Hanks plays a lawyer who is taken out of his element and despised for defending Russian spy, Abel, well and stoically played by Mark Rylance. Abel is taken to trial and Donovan deftly avoids the death penalty, believing that at some point in time, this unwavering spy might be a pawn to be played at a later time between Russia and the US.

American pilot, Francis Gary Powers (played by Austin Stowell), gets shot down in Russian air space in this flick’s minimal action scenes. With a great CIA sigh of relief,  Donovan’s mental stealth at avoiding the death penalty is right on time.

The unlikely duo of Donovan and Abel develop a regard and a respect for each other, in spite of both their government’s diplomatic disdain. Of course it’s not as simple as that, and that’s what makes this movie such a thriller. Rather than spoil it for you, I encourage you to see this flick. It’s rated “PG-13.”

Will a younger audience appreciate this movie? With more mental than physical action, they’ll have to cross that bridge when they get to it.