Sicario: Day of the Soldado

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When we sat down to watch Sicario: Day of the Soldado, audible laughter erupted  from our seats as Josh Brolin reappeared. Josh has starred in 3 of the last 4 films we have seen. Including Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2. In LA it’s often said that at any given time there are two million unemployed actors in the city. So I my next question is — How great is Josh Brolin’s Agent?! Brolin himself has either made a deal with the devil or Creative Artists Agency — or I suspect both. I don’t actually know who his agent is but I know that when I lived in LA and drove by the ominous, sleek and cold, CAA building, which is larger than most embassies, I always got a good case of the heebie-jeebies. Not to mention what I always imagined was the amount of espionage, a la The Conversation, the telephoto lenses and wiretapping devices that were set up across the Avenue of the Stars from CAA at The Hyatt Regency Century Plaza to get the upper hand on the latest deal making. …But hey, sure, it’s all just a product of my overly active imagination. 

Meanwhile back at Marcus Cinema in Appleton, Wisconsin, in my red leather  “DreamLounger” reclining La-Z-Boy in theater 14…the lights seemed awfully bright. For some reason, at the start of Sicario, the house lights never dimmed. D even got up and went out there and told the staff…but nada changed. One thing this did was help me realize how dark this film actually is. I mean literally dark. Many scenes have crushed blacks that under these circumstances where wiped out. I’m sure cinematographer Dariusz Wolski’s head would have exploded had he been in attendance. The other thing this lighting snafu brought to my attention is what a tightly wound story Sicario is…well at least until the end, where it goes off the rails, jumps the shark, what have you. But there was no way I was going to get up and complain about the lights and miss any of this. I figured D had taken one for the team already, after all. 

A kudos goes to writer Taylor Sheridan, who also wrote one of my 2016 favorites Hell or High Water. Sicario strongly develops the secondary, or supporting characters. It helps make the drama a lot more meaningful when you know where a character is coming from, metaphorically. 

On the other hand, there is a place where this story logically ends. But then it begins again. Personally, I have a pet peeve regarding epilogues. It shows a lack of confidence in the audience and a certain amount of uncertainty in the artist. An appeasement at best, a setting up of the next film, akin to a commercial, at worst. I’m sure there are plenty of valid financial or political or possibly even creative reasons for epilogues but they always fall flat for me. Most of the time I have to have someone else explain the endings of movies to me — and that’s fine with me.  

One other thing, from someone who has worked on several films in Mexico and heard complaints about this. A border story is like the low lying fruit on the creative tree in terms of storytelling regarding Mexico. Yes, in its obvious, tangible way, it has a built in drama that people can easily relate to on a dramatic level. And well told, a border story like Sicario, can be extremely effective. But there are plenty of other great films coming out of Mexico all the time. Instant classics like Amores Perros and really great more recent films like Güeros.  

Let’s for a moment talk about the insane coolness of Benicio del Toro. This guy has the charisma and presence of a modern day John Wayne. I was sitting in a cafe on Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz one night when he shows up at the door. The only sound you could hear was the wait staff falling over one another to get to the guy. It. Was. Eerie. I just wonder what makes someone like that think he can just get a grilled cheese at 11:45 on a Tuesday night and not throw the equilibrium of the entire universe totally off. But even more than that, he needs Brolin’s agent. 

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