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dir Denis Villeneuve
scr Taylor Sheridan
prd Basil Iwanyk, Thad Luckinbill, Trent Luckinbill, Edward McDonnell, Molly Smith
with Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Daniel Kaluuya, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Maximiliano Hernandez, Kim Larrichio, Lora Martinez-Cunningham, Julio Cedillo, Bernardo P Saracino, Edgar Arreola
release US 18.Sep.15, UK 9.Oct.15
15/US Lionsgate 2h01
Pay attention: Kaluuya and Blunt
CANNES FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A riveting character study wrapped in a tense thriller, this film is sharply made at every level, from an insightful script and inventive direction to the deeply layered performances. It's also the kind of movie that grapples meaningfully with huge political and personal issues in a way that gets under the skin.
The leader of a Phoenix FBI team, Kate (Blunt) takes on precarious hostage situations with her partner Reggie (Kaluuya). When one case intersects with a drug cartel operation, offbeat agent Matt (Brolin) recruits Kate to his team, taking her on an odyssey into Mexico with shady operative Alejandro (Del Toro). As Kate wonders who these men actually work for, she struggles with the way this new role is bending her moral and legal principles. Meanwhile, across the border in Mexico, a local cop (Hernandez) is unaware how his dangerous decisions will affect his family.
Roger Deakins' cinematography sharply captures the dusty border towns, evoking thoughts of both the Wild West and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while also vividly depicting the realities of life for people in this tumultuous area. As Johann Johannsson's growling score further creates a sense of unease, director Villeneuve cleverly keeps the focus tightly on Kate's journey, as she bears witness to how cartel violence has created such a chaotic situation in both America and Mexico.
Blunt gives Kate a remarkably steely nerve: her face and body only rarely relax as the unpredictability of her situation keeps her on-edge. Watching her take all of this in, piecing together the puzzle while trying to maintain her inner compass is fascinating and deeply moving. Both Del Toro and Brolin are also excellent as men who continually push her until she snaps. Kaluuya offers a welcome softness as her smart sidekick, who just wants to help. And Bernthal is breathtaking as a flirty cowboy who catches Kate's eye.
Villeneuve holds the threads of this story in such expert control that it can't help but keep our hearts pounding right through the two-hour running time. Even the few moments of levity are punctuated by unexpected tension. And as the bigger picture comes into focus, the film quietly becomes an important depiction of how fighting terrorism has turned America into a bullying mob-style state that thinks it can do anything in the name of justice. Even if that means breaking international laws and killing innocent people along the way.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
Ed C, Merseyside:
Superb film which kept me gripped from the opening scenes to the closing credits. The direction never skipped a beat either in the capable hands of Denis Villeneuve. Choice of music gave that malevolent feel to the film so that too was a perfect choice. One of the best this year. (5.Oct.15)|
Kallie Wilbourn, Las Vegas, New Mexico: Emily Blunt is excellent as the agent who never quite knows what is going on yet persists in pursuing law and order. Brolin and Del Toro keep her in the dark; they do know, and need her irreproachable devotion to law and order as a foil because they are involved in the much more complex process of dispensing justice, however covertly. All these actors commit to their roles and the result is a constant tension and dynamic of cross purposes. Add to that, the sinister Sonoran border landscape over which the camera hovers and the equally sinister musical score. The message for me: no one will win the 'drug war,' whose fallout can only be corruption, sadism and death. The frontier between the United States and Mexico is dangerously lawless as ever and that may never change as long as its entirely arbitrary border, and the games that border justifies, exist. (27.Jan.16)
© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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