EVEREST & SICARIO – FILM REVIEWS
Sicario review: This thriller starring Emily Blunt is dark, dangerous and exciting
Few of the 100 reasons why director Denis Villeneuve has emerged as one of the most exciting filmmakers of this generation:
a) He finds unconventionality in the most conventional story threads
b) His visuals are always stark and powerful, even in the simplest of scenes
c) Every film of his covers a different thematic and geographic territory
d) The protagonists are consistently fascinating
Those not well versed with Villeneueve’s work can find his new film Sicario as a fantastic primer into his filmography. It’s the most mainstream film he’s made to date, and even in such commercial space he finds the weird arthouse darkness that is synonymous with his work.
Sicario is the Apocalypse Now of the Mexican drug cartel genre. The storylines are similar – the American military is having a tough time battling an unstoppable force – drug cartels in this case, and they organize a mission to send over an unlikely candidate to take out the head of the snake. The candidate in this movie is FBI honcho Kate (Emily Blunt), who is suddenly whisked away by the Department of Defense and put into a team of a super secret elite force that specializes in eliminating targets.
Here’s where Villenueve plays with the conventional elements. The mission is so secretive Kate is never briefed on her mission and what the elite force does. As she goes deeper into the heart of darkness across the border things get progressively more dangerous, and her total lack of knowledge on what the hell is happening makes things more insane. Villeneuve milks this tension with Johann Johannson’s throbbing electronic music and Roger Deakin’s beautifully grim lighting, escalating things to nail biting levels. Even basic scenes of a motorcade roving along a highway are thrilling, and Villeneuve even makes a traffic jam a heart stopping adventure.
Much like his previous film Enemy, an undercurrent of paranoia is prevalent in Sicario. There’s always a feeling of something bad about to happen. A scene shot in a tunnel with night vision cameras will make you squirm in your seats. There are top shots of Mexican landscape that look like Escher paintings. It’s mesmerizing stuff.
The technical excellence is matched by the universally terrific acting. For once we have a central character who is unabashedly the eyes of the audience, but her being kept in the dark becomes a plot point rather than a narrative convenience for the sake of mystery. Ultimately what she uncovers isn’t something shocking, but Villeneuve’s direction makes the weight of death and loss feel heavy.
Blunt’s character is also interesting on another front – her FBI honcho Kate is a strong female character done right. Mostly in films a strong female character is a woman who behaves like a man, however Kate retains her feminine nature in her strength. It’s a tricky balance to pull off but Blunt gets it just right. If you thought her Full Metal Bitch character from Edge of Tomorrow was kickass, Kate is a surprisingly different, and more believable version of a similar character trait.
The rest of the cast is equally good. Benicio Del Toro as a mysterious military personnel makes a nice return to form after years of doing forgettable roles. Josh Brolin steals the show with sardonic one-liners that sound authentic to the milieu instead of comic relief fillers. Like in Prisoners the fine line between ethics and exploitation in a revenge situation is explored to beautiful effect. It’s not often that a mainstream film makes one ponder over the side effects of actually stopping a war against drugs – first time screenwriter Taylor Sheridan is going to be flooded with offers of making more smart thrillers soon.
If you don’t already know what Sicario means, you’re in for quite a ride. Those aware of its meaning can probably figure out the mystery early on in the film, but will still have a blast. It’s a win-win and a demonstration of deeply awesome filmmaking. The excitement levels of Blade Runner 2 being directed by Villeneuve and shot by Deakins have now increased tenfold.
This film was thrilling, a bit gory but kept everyone on the edge of their seats. A defin must see! Emily Blunt is incredible yet again!
Source: First Post
‘Everest’ review, starring Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Emily Watson and Jake Gyllenhaal
Bristling through the elevation, you feel the majesty of the mountain in Baltasar Kormákur’s Everest. Its presence, completely unmistakable, always shakes you, always leaves you a chilling reminder of its vast landscape. The wind breezes through you, firmly reminding you to never mistake the illustriousness of its vast landscape. The snow constantly pierces, pricking you through every inch of your body. The fear is real. It swims as deep inside you as it does those climbing up its unforgiving peak. But the roaming spirit of its adventure — the feeling you’re set to accomplish the impossible — also burns inside you. It stains you. It keeps your body warm, and your spirits high. It may make it all worth the while.
Through the technical marvel of Everest, the mountain always sings — though the characters surrounding its landscape don’t earn the same justice. In telling the harrowing true story behind a disastrous 1996 expedition, based on Jon Krakaeur’s bestselling memoir Into Thin Air, the respect for those who risked their lives through the treacherous conditions to prove their worth can constantly be admired.
Their story is told with loyalty, honor and care, and it’s entirely noticeable through every pass and turn. In respecting the climb and the hardships that come to follow, though, it’s apparent Kormákur — previously behind actioners like Contraband and 2 Guns — has a little more to grab than he can hold. Despite best laid intentions, the visuals host more weight than the characters. The sense of wonder, the sense of awe, is constantly burning inside you, but your heart is oddly left cold.
In May 1996, Adventure Consultant’s head guide Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) set off to guide a new series of clients up through the 8,000 meters known as Mt. Everest. Those clients, including hotshot Texan Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), expert climber Yasuko Namba (Naoko Mori), mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes) and journalist Jon Krakaeur (Michael Kelly), ascend from the Himalayas through the base camp, where they are introduced to Helen Wilton (Emily Watson), their various guides and Rob’s competition, Mountain Madness’ Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal). Tension can mount even for those whom regularly seek to accomplish the impossible. Man is not their enemy here, though. It’s the mountain they need to fear.
Only she decides who can, or will, live and die through the unforgiving trenches, and never is she known for her kindness. Through their journey, the men and women are guided upon what they depend on safety and care for one another. But as the blizzards become harsher and the air grows thinner, that may not be enough to make them come back down. Through setting the course for what’s to come, Everest reminds you how fragile we can be at every moment. And how quick fate can twist, turn and blindside you at any second on the climb. But through its IMAX 3-D presentation, you’re stunned by how much the mountains can breathe with all the ferociousness they can muster.
It roars with an intensity you cannot question. It constantly commands you with its towering, captivating display. It scares and excites you as much as it should. It constantly invigorates you with its power, but the same cannot be said for its characters — particularly the supporting ones. Despite all the ample time spent admiring the gorgeous scenery, the people themselves don’t sweep you up quite as easily. Despite some captivating performances, particularly from Hawkes, Brolin and Watson, providing the humanity needed at the core, Kormákur can’t define a clear sense of pacing.
Through trying to respect everyone, only a few get to be appreciated, and their dialogue often overstates the importance of everything. Emotional scenes lack poignancy. They come across too sappy and sugarcoated. Even though they’re based on real people, only a few people really seem alive, and once tragedy starts to settle, the emotional toll never truly settles. You get lost in a blizzard of characters and coats. It’s too hobbled to invigorate, and the potential for the impact it deserves is blown away. There’s never a sense of resonance and depth, and, with the exception of a few, you don’t really feel connected to anyone or what they set to accomplish. The characters are all likable enough, but we never feel like we really get know who they are as we climb beside them.
I watched Everest in an Imax and would recommend you all do! Everest was visually mind blowing and the whole way through I was biting my nails, you knew what was to come and couldn’t help these people who you all knew were based on a true story of one of Everests most horrific events. When I got home I immediately looked up all the facts to see what was true and what was Hollywood and I would say 90% of it was all true and the characters actually look like the real people. It made the film even more heart wrenching. The scary fact was that during filming they experienced a horrible storm and when due to film nearer the top of Everest was the second most horrific Everest disaster in her history, luckily the crew were able to leave before it became a real life threatening experience as the film they were portraying. You won’t leave with a dry eye after watching this film.