Let’s Talk About: Sicario
I watched this movie for the first time on a plane to Mexico which is an interesting experience, for those who have seen Sicario or at least know what it’s about, it’s exactly what it felt like. However, don’t get me wrong, Sicario’s depiction of Mexico is a very narrow view with little context, and does not take away from the beautiful culture and people that do live there.
Now let’s talk a little about why this film sat in the back of my head for weeks after I saw it. (I also made like four of my friends watch it as well just so I could talk to them about it).
This is the first film I ever saw of Roger Deakins, which is really quite shocking considering he has something ridiculous like 18 Oscar nominations (after a quick Google search it appears it’s only 15 but that’s still crazy). AND even more crazy is that he’s only won 2, notably on his 14th and 15th tries for Blade Runner 2049 and 1917, both incredible and well-deserved.
However, I am a firm believer that Deakins should have won for Sicario as well (his 13th nomination). This movie had some of the best (and not action wise but tracking and narrative-wise) helicopter, driving and desert scenes I have ever seen. Three scenes that are famous for being re-watched on Youtube are the convoy scene, followed by the border scene and the peak of the narrative: the tunnel scene (as seen on the movie poster). In fact, the scene right before they enter the tunnel was shot completely in the dark. Like, pitch black, middle of the night, and was shot in real time with night vision. Knowing that after the fact almost makes it better. Also, honestly if you don’t want to see the whole movie you can just watch those two scenes and you’ll get the gist of why I’m raving about it.
Yeah, once again Gen’s going to go on a tangent about some background music, but this time I think this rant is warranted. Sicario has one of the best themes I have ever heard, if not the best, which is impressive considering I’ll literally just listen to scores of movies without ever seeing the movie whenever it’s award season.
Composed by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, the main theme of the movie, properly named “The Beast”, makes it’s first appearance in the scene before the famed border scene that I’ve already brought up before and makes the helicopter tracking shot as they pass through into the city of Juarez even more jaw-dropping.
Someone in the press junket, I think it was Benicio del Toro, mentioned that parts of the theme are what a rumbling stomach feels like, but in sounds. Which I think is super accurate. I really don’t know how to describe how crazy the theme is without screaming “it’s just so good I don’t get it”, so I’m just going to link it here. You can also see this theme in action in the convoy scene I linked above.
I am a strong believer that the sequel of this film is great, but it could have been so much better. In Sicario: Day of the Soldado, unfortunately, Emily Blunt is no longer a cast member and Denis Villeneuve, Roger Deakins and Johan Johansson were not on the roster. This took the sequel down a peg from being an award contender to just a plain sick action movie. Which I don’t mind.
The sequel’s score was brilliantly done by Hildur Guðnadóttir and mirrored the tone of the first very, very well. Guðnadóttir went on to win big, and big as in Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs, for scoring Joker. You know, that small movie. Another great addition to the cast was Isabela Moner (now Merced), who definitely stepped up into big shoes to play this role and killed it.
Either way, I still kinda want to see a third film just because they did sort of leave us on a cliff-hanger. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to happen.
Overall, Sicario is one whole package of a film. It’s got drama, action, gory, violence, tension, breathtaking cinematography, great directing, and a stacked cast. Weird fact, following this I then went on to watch Avengers: Infinity War just a month or so later, seeing Josh Brolin playing a very different role. I also decided to see more of Benicio de Toro, watching his early Oscar win from 2000 for Traffic, and then also seeing him in Infinity War as the Collector. Again, quite the significant role change.