Director: Denis Villeneuve; Main Cast: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro;
Kate (Blunt) is a FBI agent used to kick down doors and catch bad guys for the good of all American people. She follows the rules but, on a rescue operation, she stumbles on something that it’s beyond understanding: dozens of dead bodies ensconced inside the walls of a house. It belongs to a major player in the drug traffic between US and Mexico and it has the additional perk of backyard shed booby-trapped with explosive that kills two policemen. Spurred by righteous indignation, Kate joins an inter-agency task force led by Matt (Brolin), soi-disant consultant for the Department of Defense, who will show her how the war on drugs is really fought. Mat is helped by Alejandro (Del Toro), another “consultant” of the US government, who is enigmatic, apparently all-knowing and rather shady, also not American. The viewer goes along with Kate on this grim ride, discovering facts and getting information as she does, slowly realising that she stepped into a very dangerous world where police work is substituted by covert military operations and rules and boundaries are very different from what she knows and believes in. Villeneuve seems to have a knack for making films that keep you engaged and uncomfortable at the same time. The foreboding mood of the story, the constant feeling that something is not right is difficult to shake off even for the jaded, cynical viewer, all thanks to Villeneuve’s ability in combining excellent performances with a good script and expert cinematography. Brolin and Blunt sell very well their respective characters but Del Toro is the one that truly shines! I did miss him in a role he could sink his teeth in and give us something remarkable. The other interesting aspect of this film is the fact that doesn’t really give an answer to the questions it raises on the “war” on drugs, it just depicts the situation in all its stark, disheartening reality, reminding me of a very illuminating exchange in an episode of The Wire:
Carver: You can’t even call this shit a war.
Hauk: Why not?
Carver: Wars end.
Director: Baltasar Kormákur, Main Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg
It begins like a regular story about crooks: two mid-level criminals pull a heist at a small bank, they are after the security boxes. However we find out that one is a DEA agent and the other works for the Navy’s intelligence…the plot already thickens but, apparently, it is not enough, the CIA is also involved doing the dirt with all the drug cartels in Mexico. Everything that could go wrong for our heros will and the proverbial shit hits the fan, unfortunately for the viewers nothing is really new and it is very boring. Both Washington and Wahlberg are doing bidimensional characters and they are not making any efforts. The support acting is so cliched that it seems a bunch of caricatures. Compared to this film Walker Texas Ranger is like a shakespearean play. Trite and dull. —2/10
Director: Ridley Scott, Main Cast: Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt
Cormac McCarthy’s second attempt as a screenwriter leaves me with mixed feelings. It’s a dark tale of choices and consequences, somewhat between a Shakespearean tragedy and a Coen’s film. Michael Fassbender is our anti-hero, involved with unsavory people due to his profession as a defense lawyer. He decides, out of need and greed, to enter the risky but highly remunerating business of drugs with the help of two longtime associates (Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt), who are quite savvy when it comes to dealing with Mexican drug cartels. Someone else’s greed and fate will throw a wrench in his plan and tragedy will ensue. The dialogues and all the scenes with the main characters are more suited for a play than a movie, so much that the stunning cinematography, typical in a Ridley Scott’s film, seems wasted. There are gruesome deaths and a very cynic view of the world but the film lacks conviction about its grittiness, maybe in the hands of the Coen brothers we would have seen something grimmer but more cohesive. Anyway the acting is top-notch and it is a pleasure to watch. —7/10