Review: Sicario

Sicario-Trailer-2-Starring-Emily-Blunt-and-Benicio-Del-Toro Sicario. It means "hitman". This is what we are told at the beginning of this gorgeous film. Do you like gripping suspense and thrills? Do you love beautiful cinematography that remembers film making truly is an art form? Do you need a bit of odd pacing and loud music that sounds like a mix of scores from a horror film and a Godzilla flick? Well this is the movie for you!

Sicario is a film that follows DEA agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) along with her partner Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya) as we first see them deal with what is unfortunately a very familiar scene in their lives as they execute a hostage rescue where they find more than they were expecting. These missions bring her to the attention of Matt Gravin (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), two mysterious advisers for the DEA. There is a plan to do more than just clean up the mess of the Mexican cartels. What unfolds as we watch is that plan.

I dare not say any more as that way spoilers lie but just know that we get a ton of great performances from the cast here. While these guys are great (especially when we see a wet willy used as a torture method) what got me sucked in was how gorgeous the cinematography is throughout. First it's the overhead shots of the desert. However you soon find yourself viewing from some unique angles of this story. It's hard to describe as it was a very unique mix and very artsy angles that only served to add to the story being told. I loved every bit of it. This truly added to the level of suspense as many times you just weren't sure what was going to go wrong but you KNEW it would go wrong.

I can easily recommend this movie to anyone that loves a good crime drama/suspense thriller. Just be ready for it to be VERY graphic. But that doesn't mean it's perfect.

The first major issue is the pacing. At times it feels very slow. This works great during the first two acts but during the third act things seem to drag when we know what's about to happen. It's not awful but it is noticeable. Trim a few minutes and we're good.

The second issue is the overwrought music. I kind of liked it at first as it drove home the feeling dread that this film deserved (I found this movie scarier than any horror film but then I don't find horror scary). However it gets to be a bit much in a good theater. It really does feel like the demon version of Godzilla is about to walk on screen at any moment. Just chill, guys. We get it.

My last issue doesn't change the story telling at all but it's obnoxious. Go to IMDB and look up this movie. First you'll see that Sicario is a popular name for movies but ignore that. Go to the cast list and top billed is Emily Blunt as she is the cipher through which we experience the majority of this film. Now scroll down tot he next actress. You're gonna go down fifteen names. The next billed female actress is the wife of a guy. She has a few lines but no name. There was one of actress. She had no lines, no name and was on screen for a couple of minutes. I personally find this to just be obnoxious as hell.

Anywho, I really enjoyed this movie, even with those few flaws. If you dig this genre do not miss this. Just try not to sit near the speakers.

[easyreview title= "Review of Sicario" cat1title="Rob's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.0" overall= false]

Review: Edge of Tomorrow

edgeoftomorrow Another Sci-Fi wanna be blockbuster starring Tom Cruise this year? I guess he’s not gonna stop until he gets it right. Well good news, everyone! This movie is it! A Tom Cruise vehicle that finally delivers an interesting story, a great premise, excellent visuals and good characters. It’s probably the least Cruise-y he’s been since Tropic Thunder. His shirt stayed on, people! More importantly I enjoyed the hell out of this film from start to finish. In the not so distant future asteroids are hitting the earth. These rocks are filled with alien creatures that quickly begin to crush populations, slowly but surely taking over our planet. Due to their ability to adapt to any tactic or armament thrown at them they are soon called Mimics. Mankind needs an army to fight them and to recruit that army we need propaganda. Officer Cage is the man in charge of the fims being made to recruit soldiers. Only now he’s being ordered to the front line to shoot first hand footage. Having never been in combat he resists and attempts to blackmail the General in charge. Well this doesn’t work out in his favor as the General is now pissed. Cage is quickly knocked out and wakes up exactly as you’ve seen him in the trailers, confused and in handcuffs on a military base where he’s been set up and will shortly be going to the front lines as a private, not an officer. Eventually Cage does see combat in a suit of armor he has no idea how to control. I don’t want to spoil anything but just know that he dies in a very interesting way. This causes him to wake up the previous day on the base in handcuffs. Again.

This is our premise. We have a weasely former officer stuck in the same day over and over. No one wants to believe him as he keeps going to this beach and dying over and over… until he shows off a bit of his future knowledge to Rita (Emily Blunt), the Full Metal Bitch… but don’t call her that to her face. She’ll make you regret it. However she sees what he can do and knows what has happened. Now he has an ally is this madness.

I won’t spoil anything but I will say that this event is only happening to him while still having someone believe him is a neat dynamic. This isn’t Groundhog Day where the day repeats until he gets it right for no known reason. There are defined rules and to restart the day Cage must die every time.

I’ll stop there as the story is fun to watch unfold. The pacing of the story is great as well. Just when it’s about to get tedious we get great action breaks to keep the flow going. And boy, the fight scenes are so much fun due to the cool mech armor and the scary freaky design of the mimics. You barely get a look at them in the trailer but mostly because they are that damn fast. When you see them really in action it is flat out scary. The faces they have never move but that works to make them just that much scarier. They are super lethal so when we see Cage or Rita take them down it’s that much cooler. Especially when she’s using that giant Final Fantasy Buster Sword of hers.

The acting is good as well. Mostly I just love Cruise because he’s not some super badass like he is in most films. You can actually start to see his age and it works to keep him feeling like a real person stuck in a horrific situation. Emily Blunt was also a joy to watch if for no reason other than having such a strong female presence, even stronger than the lead. There was never any doubt who was in charge from beginning to end.

And that ending… I’ll just say you never truly know what is going to happen at that point. That level of tension was a blast.

This is the kind of movie we’ve needed. A super solid sci-fi action piece that isn’t a sequel or a remake or a comic book movie. Sure it’s based on a book but not one that people are overly familiar with. It’s fun and scary and intriguing. Bottom line is I have zero complaints about this movie. It’s not the most amazing thing ever but it was really great all the way through. With that in mind I would like to point out that I grade films on what they present, not in comparison to other films. So yeah… gotta hand over the five stars to this one. I can’t wait to see it again and I will buy the blu-ray as soon as I can get my hands on it.

[easyreview title= "Review of Edge of Tomorrow" cat1title="Rob's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="5.0" overall= false]

Review: Looper

Rian Johnson’s Looper shows us that the sometimes you have to save the best for last. Coming in after a mega blockbuster summer, Looper shows it can still please the crowds during the slow roll into Oscar season. Time travel is the easiest concept to screw up and yet the most intriguing to tackle as a director. If you get it right the crowds rejoice. If you get too complicated and confuse the audience then your film, no matter how good, will just be thrown to the waste side. Fortunately for Rian Johnson he struck the proper cord and delivered a great sci-fi romp through time. The future is not a clean and wonderful utopia in the vein of an episode of The Jetsons, but rather a realistic upgrade to our lives presently. I always prefer that the future be portrayed in this way, allowing the audience to stay connected. Looper tells the story of a hitman named Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) whose job it is to take down people that the mob from his future send back to be killed. Its a pretty simple job, Joe is told when and where the victim will arrive and all he has to do is pull the trigger and get paid. However, life really goes off the rails when the older version of Joe (Bruce Willis) shows up as a victim. The momentary hesitation allows Old Joe to escape and thus beginning the crumbling of Young Joe’s world. The moral conundrum that plays out on whether to kill your future self in order to save the present day you in fascinating. With Old Joe on the run, the mob is now hunting down both of them to close the loop. The high octane chase scenes are fun to watch and add an element of danger and suspense to an already intriguing story. Once Sara (Emily Blunt) is included in the story we get a very interesting play on what is destined for the future of both Joe characters. Is your future already laid out for you or can you change it on a whim? There are so many twists and turns in this film that talking too much about what happens next will just spoil the movie going experience. Needless to say, you never know what’s coming around the bend, but you will be happy when you get there.

One of the most noticeable elements in the film is the extent to which Joseph Gordon-Levitt went to play a young Bruce Willis. Facial prosthetics and voice coaching were clearly used to really bring a young Willis to life. There is a scene where the two actors sit across from one another in a diner and it seems as if they are actually related. The mannerisms, facial expressions, and voice are meticulously accurate. Gordon-Levitt performs well here a much added improvement over his very mediocre performance in Premium Rush. Bruce Willis brings a certain level of man on a mission attitude that makes him believable in his unrelenting pursuits. Emily Blunt puts on her best American accent and really generates a heartfelt character striving to protect the one thing most important to her. All in all, the performances were top notch. For an action sci-fi flick it was one of the best I have seen this year. The sci-fi genre has had some excellent thoughtful films as of late, and this one is no exception. Rian Johnson takes advantage of his fantastic cast and weaves a narrative that people will examine and reexamine for years to come. His portrayal of the near future is a simple one on the surface but masks a world that is far more complicated and nuanced. Listen to this week's upcoming The Nerdpocalypse podcast episode for a spoiler filled review and further analysis.

[easyreview title= "Review of Looper" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="5.0" overall= false]