My thoughts on Denis Villenueve as a director was not exactly left untouched in my review of his previous film 'Enemy' and he was one of the main factors why I was excited to see this film in the first place. We also have 'Prisoners' which was one of my absolute favorite movies of 2013 so the director has been popping up year after year in my favorite lists so now it is time to find out what he has cooked up for us in 'Sicario'.

First off , it seriously cannot be understated that Denis Villenueve has an exceptional talent for creating tension in film. From the nailbiting 'Prisoners' to the edge of your seat 'Sicario' - he never lets the audience go as every single shot feels incredibly important. There is so much weight to everything that is happening that is difficult to remember your need to breath while watching his movies. However unlike his other work, I feel 'Sicario' is a bit better paced and feels a bit tighter as a movie - however I also feel it is not as strong of a film as 'Prisoners' and 'Enemy'. The leading lady played by Emily Blunt is not given enough character development for the audience to truly get behind her and the plot is not exactly the most unpredictable thing you have ever experienced. There is not a whole lot unique about it which is a shame because with his previous work - you had no clue where any of it was going thanks to their masterful structures. 'Sicario' had the opportunity to be a very unpredictable beast of a film but it sadly falls short of rising above the norm and become an insane best picture Oscar contender.

Now that is not to say this is an average film - far from it. In fact it is still a fantastic movie and one of the best I have seen this year thus far. Right from the first scene you are just hooked to the screen as the movie does not waste any time and dives right into the tension-filled action - expertly setting the tone for the rest of the film. A tone it never once looses its grip on even after several comedic moments from some of the characters.

While this may not be a contender for the best picture Oscar - I do feel like Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro might have a chance to grab a nomination each for their performances as they practically carry the movie from an acting standpoint. When looking at Blunt's earlier work, I can almost certainly say that this is her best performance of her career up to this point - especially seeing the lack of any serious development her character received from the script. The same could actually probably be said about Del Toro as this is probably his best performance to date as well. Josh Brolin also stands out and is responsible for most of the films comedic moments - which are naturally weaved in and never feels out of place with this otherwise very dark and serious thriller. All the actors in the film are perfectly cast and there is not a single one that I feel lacked the skills to pull of the acting range required for the characters.

You can very easily tell that Denis Villenueve and Roger Deakins (the film's cinematographer) work beautifully together as just like 'Prisoner's - this film is crystal sharp when it comes to the way the shots are framed and composited. This is a visually stunning film that is also never afraid of diving into the gritty nature of these events. It still does manage to show quite a lot of restraint in several scenes as they can be quite simple in the way they are shot - but they still remain very effective in what it is trying to accomplish.

While I do not necessarily think it deserves a best picture nomination - I would not be against it at all if it did because Denis Villenueve deserves all the attention he can get as he has consistently been one of the best directors of the past couple of years, and yet he has yet to receive even one nomination at the Academy Awards (he even lacks a Golden Globe nomination). If 'Sicario' ends up being the one that finally takes the cake - I will be happy because at least it is a great movie and great movies deserve attention in the award season. I am at least expecting a nod to both Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro for their stunning performances - and a cinematography nod to Roger Deakins again (he received 'Prisoners' only Oscar nomination and it is a crime that it did not pick up more). 'Sicario' is a gripping experience that never spoon-feeds the audience information and never try to tell a dumb and forced message. This is film-making at its finest as it treats the audience with just as much respect that is necessary for them to get involved with the story in a more intellectual way than just brainless junk.

Overall, 'Sicario' is one of the better films of the year and is currently sitting rather comfortably in my top 10 list (although I kind of doubt it will remain there when all is said and done). The movie lacks any sort of unpredictability as it follows a rather typical storyline and the leading character is never given any sort of character development that takes her beyond being just an average character. To make up for this the film offers stunning direction, gorgeous cinematography and a brooding score that fits in perfectly with Villenueve's other recent work. Go check it out.


- Lucas


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