Sicario via Sicario

After the Roman siege of Jerusalem around 70 A.D., a vicious splinter sect of Jewish assassins dedicated themselves to a cloak-and-dagger path of murder and subterfuge to expel the Roman occupancy. These insurrectionists became feared for their brazen, mid-day assaults on Roman officers and sympathizers in the public, and they were eventually branded sicarii after the distinctive short daggers they hid in their cloaks. So dreadful were the sicarii that the Latin word sicarius would eventually be adopted to describe ruthless killers for hire throughout Central and South America. As it turns out, the word sicario is even relevant to metalheads.

This weekend, my wife and I finally got a chance to watch Denis Villeneuve’s stunning crime thriller Sicario. The film presents a shocking, psychologically heavy depiction of the American war on drugs and the wholesale destruction of life, family, and character it creates. Emily Blunt plays a tough, by-the-book FBI agent caught up in a twisting plot of murder and intrigue. As her character, agent Kate Mancer, becomes further entwined in DOD consultants Matt Graver’s  (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro Gillick’s (Benicio del Toro) tangled web of deceit and violence, the viewer is consistently left to wonder if the ends justify the means. Does violence beget violence? Is justice alone sufficient to defeat barbarism, or does vengeance leaves us as dead on the inside as those we avenge?

Sicario is an exercise in slow-burning tension. Though there’s plenty of action, these moments of violence and horror are always carefully juxtaposed against quiet unease. Villeneuve is just as content to barrage you with rapid-fire scenes of death and murder as he is to allow your imagination to fill in the blanks as characters are stabbed and brutalized just off-screen. The end result is a precarious balance on a razor blade that demands your attention and emotional endurance. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s excellent score only serves to accentuate the high-stakes drama and pointed guile of the film, with quiet moments of atmosphere yielding to taut cello lines and staccato eruptions of bass and brass as you are pulled ever deeper into Conrad’s modern heart of darkness. Even if you haven’t seen this film, I highly suggest you check out the critically acclaimed score.

As I often do after watching a new film, I took to Wikipedia to see if I could learn more about the titular sicario. Aside from the history lesson I provided you in the introduction, I also discovered that Chilean thrashers Criminal released a bludgeoning album also called Sicario in 2005. Does the record hold up to the cunning and stealthy ruthlessness of some of history’s first assassins and Villeneuve’s sharp, brooding thriller?

Truthfully, not really. Although the band’s 1997 sophomore release Dead Soul is considered by many a classic, the thrashers’ fifth release is a bit of a raucous bull in a china shop, more sound and noise than wit and sabotage. Yes, the songs on the album are performed with able professionalism. Hollow-point riffs and napalm solos, such as those in “Sicario” and “Preacher of Hate,” perfectly accentuate the machine gun drums, but too often do the songs delve into latter-day Sepultura-esque grooves and Latin-style aggro chugs. The music never becomes bad or even boring, and Anton Reisenegger’s Teutonic thrash-styled rasps are quite often a high point that add a layer of dire intensity to the mix, but the entire effort falls somewhat short of the imposing shadow cast by its historical namesake. Thrash, at its best, can rise to dizzying heights of secrecy or plumb the depths of obfuscating shadow. Sicario is good but never great, eschewing black ops precision for blunt force trauma. If you have to choose anything to listen to in this post, I’d suggest Jóhann Jóhannsson’s original soundtrack. Still, if you like modern thrash in the vein of Dew Scented or Evile, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Sicario from the little-known Chilean masters in Criminal.

(Photos VIA and VIA)

Written by:

Published on: February 10, 2016

Filled Under: Metal

Views: 1098

Tags: , ,

  • Óðinn

    ~~~

    • ME GORAK B.C.™

      ????

      • Max

        Belton storge. I think that’s what he’s trying to say.

      • Óðinn

        Lemmy is cool. That is all.

        • ME GORAK B.C.™

          LEMMY COOLEST!!!!!!! (DIDN’T SEE PICTURE EARLIER) !!!!

  • Oh man, I really want to see this movie. I’ve put it off for way to long now. AV Club named one of the scenes in the movie “The best film scenes of 2015”.

    Also, Emily Blunt >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    http://www.avclub.com/article/best-film-scenes-2015-229365

    • Max

      The write-up has piqued my interest. It sounds like a much heavier Traffic.

      • Dagon

        I don’t have fond memories of Traffic but I did watch it at a much younger age.

        • Max

          Yeah, some people don’t get into it. I really did. I sense this film might have the same sepia vibe somehow. Maybe I’m just Del Torolizing.

      • I think it will be MUCH better than Traffic. I find that movie to be a bit too overrated. Great performances though.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        Traffic is a great band and a mediocre movie.

        • more beer

          Traffic was better than this movie.

    • Dagon

      You basically wrote the exact comment I was gonna type. Expect an upvote from Ed too, another member of the Emily Blunt club

      • Yeah, after I saw her in Edge of Tomorrow I was sold.

        • Dagon

          Looper was a cool film too.

          • Noted.

          • Dubs

            I liked it a lot.

        • Scrimm

          I got a free ticket to that and ended up enjoying it a lot more than I expected I would.

        • Óðinn

          Edge of Tomorrow was good. I liked it even though it was a Tom Cruise film.

          • ULTRA RARE BLACKBEARD

            Vanilla Sky like that too

      • Edward/Breegrodamus™

        It’s true, I am!

        Also I stopped reading this post because I want to watch this film. I wonder if it’s available on any streaming sites? … could watch it tonight.

        • Dubs

          I snagged it in Redbox. Also, I didn’t put in any super spoilery details.

      • JJM wants in the club. Looper >>>>>>>

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          Didn’t love the ending especially, but agree with your number of arrows.

        • Dagon

          The special effects on Gordon-Levitt were dope but they also threw me off a bit. Took me a long time to get used to it.

          • they threw me off a little bit too. just a little. but it’s still JGL, would you turn down Salma Hayek because someone sneezed on her?

          • Dagon

            I love women covered in phlegm so no

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        Emily Blunt is pretty.

  • ME GORAK B.C.™

    NOT BAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Paris Hilton

    Zooey Deschanel deserves an Oscar for this movie imo. Her performance was amazing and a huge career risk that will hopefully pay off by ejecting her from her typecast characters. 10/10 wood watch again.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      No more manic pixie dream girl?

  • COAL GROHL

    these are great tunes for driving in rush hour traffic

  • Boss the Turbid Ross

    This was put together really well, good job Dubya!

    • Dubs

      Thanks, dude. It was fun researching this.

      • Boss the Turbid Ross

        I bet!

        I got my Salome CD yesterday. It CRUSHES! Master Failure segued into Epidemic is amazing.

        • Dubs

          Man, mine hasn’t arrived yet. Hopefully it will be there when I get home.

          • Boss the Turbid Ross

            It should be(not that I would actually know or not), mine got here faster than I was expecting and you are just a tad farther away than I am.

        • ULTRA RARE BLACKBEARD

          Akhlys and Blut Aus Nord arrived today

          • which Blut Aus Nord? is it one that’s gonna make Tapir super jealous?

          • ULTRA RARE BLACKBEARD

            Mmm i donno. I got 777 Sect (s)

          • Sir Tapir The Based

            Why would I be super jealous?

          • Got my copies of Baptism – The Beherial Midnigh, Diaboli – Invocation, Hate Forest – The Most Ancient One, and Lascowiec – Survival today. Jamming Diaboli now.

        • more beer

          Kat Katz rules!

          • Boss the Ross

            Her voice is so intense.

  • JWEG

    Splinter group of Jewish Assassins?

    My resistance to making a Life of Brian joke is wearing very thin.

    …SPLITTERS!

    • Boss the Turbid Ross

      ROMANES EUNT DOMUS

      • CyberneticOrganism

        People called Romanes, they go, the house?

        • Boss the Ross

          ROMANI ITE DOMUM

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      That’s a good movie.

  • Sicario had a LOT of things going for it; but pacing was not one of them. the story was told in the way that the writer wanted, the characters had their arcs, and the film followed the director’s vision. yet we as audience members still need to be engaged, and when the second half of a film is such a slow burner compared to the white-hot first half, it can leave a viewer with a bizarre taste in his/her mouth. i saw it with a few friends and we all agreed that about half-way through, the film’s momentum had run dry. still good though!

    • Dubs

      I think SupernintendoChalmers made a similar argument, but I honestly didn’t feel that. I thought the pacing was necessary to really build the tension.

      • whoops, i was kinda harsh on it. sorry! i made it sound like it was the worst thing in the world, when it was just a small quibble. pacing is also WAY dependent on the viewer.
        **
        oh hey, since it’s “after-hours”… how about the first little scuffle that sets the movie in motion? BRÜTAL. like, jaw-droppingly so

        • Dubs

          You talking the house or the, uh, road?

      • and where did this happen, may i ask? i don’t see it here

        • Dubs

          On teh facebook

          • ah, you have confirmed my suspicions. that i don’t know who he/she is!

    • more beer

      I wasn’t that impressed with this movie. I have seen much better narco movies.

      • Dubs

        Would you prefer The Departed?

        • ULTRA RARE BLACKBEARD

          Any Cheech & Chong movie. Up In Smoke, maybe?

          • Dubs

            This is a quality joke, BB.

        • more beer

          Departed was alright. I usually really like these types of films. For some reason this one didn’t really grab me. I will watch it again at some point and see if my opinion of it changes.

  • Treebeard, Father of Fangorn

    The picture on the top of this article reminds me of a splendid tale I just read about the strange goings on of the desert. If one might feel so inclined, I implore you to slow down and read this book. It is a great work.

    http://www.npr.org/2015/05/28/408295800/the-water-knife-cuts-deep

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    I need to like, take my brain to the gym so I can watch films like this again.

  • JWEG

    On a serious note, my sister’s boyfriend recently asked me if I had seen Sicario, and recommended I do ASAP when I said I hadn’t.

    We don’t talk about much other than movies and metal (our common ground), but any recommendation he has on either thing tends to be very well-received. I might have to mention the metal connection, too.

    It’s probably easier just to send the link to this page. I might butcher the details if I try to pass it on second-hand.

    • Dubs

      That’s a cool connection

  • Also the director of this film did Prisoners as well. A very dark and underrated film in my opinion.

  • Waynecro

    I’m not much into watching movies, but I enjoyed reading this. Thanks!

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    Has anybody ever seen this documentary? Pretty sick stuff.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jN0ImVgS-UY

    • Pentagram Sam

      Damn, the full doc is on YouTube. Gonna check it out tonite thanks dude!

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        A lot of “interesting” shit is said in that doc!

        • Pentagram Sam

          Watching it right now and it got me thinking. How does someone get into the line of work where you go out and interview people like this? I got a degree in Sociology that hasn’t done shit for me so far, but what really got me in the classes were all the courses on crime, criminology, social deviance and things like that. Social rebellion, rejection of society, things like that I honed in on hard.

          I would seriously love to be immersed in this type of element or like a group of true blue 1%er bikers to talk to them and find out about their lives and their day to days like in this doc.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            I don’t think any serious OC group would allow someone to see into their inner workings. However, you can interview select people who in the past had previously been into that life.

            1%ers may be an exception, because they usually want to “clean up” their public image. But they’re not gonna show you the grimy shit they’re up to.

  • Owlswald

    It’s got Benecio Del Toro so it satisfies the only requirement to be categorized as a drug movie. In other news, I need to watch Blow again.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      A Scanner Darkly or GTFO

      • I remember enjoying that movie. I thought it would be dumb as fuck, I was surprised.

  • Dubs

    What’s interesting to me is that the Sicarii are one of the first recorded groups of organized assassins. They even predated Hassan-i-Sabbah’s order for which assassins are named.

    • Óðinn

      Interesting side note: You can’t spell assassins without ass (twice). 😉

      • Dubs

        Assassassin

        • Óðinn

          Touché.

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        “ass” lol…”ass” “ass” lolol

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    This band reminds me of Metal Church. Speaking of Metal Church they’re coming to my area.

    • i wish that was some kind of super power. such that i could jump in randomly and say “This band reminds me of Strapping Young Lad.” and they could come to my area.

      • Janitor Jim Duggan

        I found it out today.

      • Boss the Ross

        If you ever figure out how to do that, hook me up

  • Óðinn
  • Óðinn

    Thanks, W. I’ll give this a watch.

  • Pentagram Sam

    Great write up dude! I didn’t know how to start talking about this movie wo plopping out mad spoilers but this movie was one of the few movies I’ve seen where when it was over, the entire theater shuffled out in absolute and utter silence. Cool tie in to the band Criminal too, gotta check em out.

    hahha when I was telling folks about this one kept saying the wrong name and calling it Sarcafogo m/

    • Dubs

      I had to be careful in this write-up to not give too much away. I mean, you can kind of see things coming, but still.

  • Seb

    It was a brilliant film, so intense! and the score was perfect.

    • Boss the Ross

      Welcome to the Toilet!

      • Seb

        Thanks man, i’ve been here for a while, i just don’t tend to write much

        • Boss the Ross

          Okay, right on. Hope to see you around more.

  • Good writing, Dubs.

    I also need to point that Sicario is a Venezuelan cult film too. It was released in 1994 and follows the drama of a 14 year old Colombian who enters unto the sicariato world and is trained into the killing, trying to survive in the poor zones.

    Most of the Venezuelan films of that era recreates this phenomenon of poverty, violence, malandros, drugs and sex. Sicario is one of them, it have its flaws, but overall serves as a description of how the barrios world work and how’s the social dynamics inside it. The violence is a resource to survive.

    I found this on Youtube, but I don’t know if it have the english subs.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV78avEgi5I

  • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

    Sounds good! And he said, “tit” ular….lol. Get it?