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Review: ‘Sicario’ Is Gut-Wrenching And With Performances To Die For

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Sicario

Sicario is a movie that comes at you sideways. Sure, that’s true of any movie where you have so few clues about what may be around the next corner, but Sicario is, by definition, a very straight forward police-action drama concerning U.S. officials going after some very heavy Mexican drug lords.

This gives us a fairly obvious good-guy, bad-guy shoot ’em up. But watching Sicario, which means hitman in Spanish, is like walking on sand and coming across a sink hole. This defines the first sensation, that of feeling the earth moving with sinister quietude. Just before it gobbles you up.

In this case, however, the action starts with FBI field agent Kate Macer, played by Emily Blunt, involved in a routine bust at a run-of-the-mill house in Chandler, Arizona, which turns into one of the more memorable murder scenes in movie history.

This opening already puts the audience off balance – as well it might. But it also puts Macer in the position of being recruited for a special task force focused on bringing down the top leaders of Mexico’s drug cartels, the men who make the decisions that lead to horrific murder scenes.

SicarioHowever, something is off and it would be disingenuous of me to give that away. Suffice it to say, the task force is lead by operations chief Matt Graver, played by Josh Brolin, who is backed up by administrator Dave Jennings, played by silver-haired Victor Garber. Also on the task force is a brooding, apparently shell shocked, former Mexican prosecutor Alejandro Gillick, played by Benicio del Toro.

It should be a clue that Graver turns down a chance to hire Reggie Wayne, an FBI agent with a law degree, played by Daniel Kaluuya, with the snide comment that he doesn’t want any lawyers on his task force. But this is said with sneering aplomb and is greeted with a snicker from others in the room. It appears, he just wants hungry-for-justice types. He then goads Macer into joining his team, asking her if she wants justice against these awful predators or not.

Needless to say, violence in movies has become as routine as eggs for breakfast. In Sicario, however, every bullet fired has a purpose. When there are bodies on the street, there is no need to ask why the director choose to include that scene. If there is a finger on a trigger in Sicario, there is determination behind it. Villains don’t scream and jump into the air when they are hit. They drop and die. Automatic fire is too fast for speeches.

Why this movie jumps, however, is because there maybe four Oscar contenting performances on the screen. First, it is impossible to take your eyes off Emily Blunt. She is the next Jodie Foster, except that she is less intense than Foster. Nevertheless, she has the face of a young teenager and here she is balanced between sullied innocence and determined evil. In this movie, from a law enforcement point of view, she loses her virginity, so to speak.

Josh Brolin has also come into his own. He’s a classic Steve McGarrett type, only he refuses to be typecast. Here, as task force commander, he is walking a thin line – and, again, I have no intention of giving that away. You might say, however, he plays Graver like Steve McGarrett on his day off, when nobody is supposed to be looking.

Suffice it to say, Benicio del Toro has never played a darker role. As Graver’s right-hand man, he is in the drug wars with a clarity of purpose, but he is slightly damaged goods from a professional point of view. That means, he is either troop mascot or a time bomb. But that isn’t how this plays out.

Lastly, Victor Garber has a role that he should phone in – except he doesn’t. He plays a law enforcement administrator who sits behind a desk, mostly. But his performance is both exacting and daring, like the last detail in an abstract painting that brings the whole thing together.

Sicario hangs tough with an excellent script by Taylor Sheridan and solid directing by Denis Villeneuve.

This film is being reviewed as “hard hitting” and “gut wrenching.” But it is more than that. This is an exploration of innocence, a law-enforcement coming of age drama. What’s the next step we take in the war on drugs? First define the word war. We’ll take it from there.

 

Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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