by Heinrich Domingo
Hollywood is life sans realism. Through predictable plot, romanticized characters, and happy-ever-after endings, mainstream movies made sure that cinema viewers are addicted to the feel-good stories.This profitable world has perfected its way to ensure unwavering patronage from the herd of consumers. Sicario, on the other hand, presents situation as it is without the slightest intention to cover up the foul reality of our world. It is a crusader of truth. It is a testament that films can be great even without the glitter and glimmer of typical films.
Drug bust operations set in South America have been a thoroughly discussed topic. Often, movies flaunt the stories of macho heroes battling the bad guys. Those movies end with a triumphant victory promising that the drug cartel is done once and for all. As a result, viewers end up with a false notion on how this trade works.
As Sicario enters the movie scene, it pops the fantasy bubble that earlier media established. It details the story of female FBI agent Kate Macer (played by Emily Blunt) as she joins an operation to bust a major drug cartel in Mexico. The American-led team confronts issues of police arrest ethics, drug bust protocols and civilian involvement while on operation. Though the purpose of eradicating the illegal drug trade in America seems to be clear, the team is prompted with a biting reality – illegal drug business is more than black and white.
Despite the film’s presentation of the human side of illegal drug business, it does not condone the trade. It simply recognizes that behind every drug dealer is a family to support, workers to feed, and loved ones to protect. The public are then asked to revisit their judgments between the opposing elements of the police (good) and the offender (bad). Are our notions of good and bad characters permanent? Or do these labels become mashed-up overtime.
From the beginning, the movie was meant to sidetrack from the repetitive stories of action movies. While it leaves off macho male perspective, it adopts a female view. Thus, characters were given more depth and fight scenes were more meaningful. Gun and murder were not just created as testosterone-boosters but were provided with context. The film rises above its cinematic intention and became a social and political commentary.
Sicario exposed the flaws of the current system. It criticizes practices and protocols of police force on handling the illegal drug cartel. Rather than embrace the hyped environment in drug bust operations, the film ask more questions than offer answers.
A typical viewer bearing the male gaze expecting for blood-gushing scenes might find this film unentertaining. Sicario is not supposed to fill in the public’s longing for violence; rather it wishes the audience to revisit their understanding of the interplay of various elements in illegal drug trade. This film ignites thinking more than viewing.