Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Directed By: Dennis Villeneuve
Written By: Taylor Sheridan
Cinematography By: Roger Deakins
Editor: Joe Walker
Cast: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Jeffrey Donovan, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Maximilano Herandez, Raoul Trujillo
*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review
An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.
This film is where director Dennis Villeneuve style really comes alive. Now while PRISONERS is a well directed film. I always had problems with it. Here Villeneuve style is crucial to the story.
It can only be explained as he has a knack for making scenes feel alive with tension. Even simple ones. He manages to catch you off guard so many times. That at any moment in his films anything can happen. Especially in the world the characters inhabit. Violence can break out at any time. Tension which he excels makes everything feel urgent and powerfully delivered. Makes it feel like anything can happen
The film while having violent scenes manages the trick of not really showing any violence but making it feel like there is more in the film then there actually is. The few scenes of violence are either so shocking or graphic. That in other scenes that even suggest it. Your imagination is already at work going overboard.
That is certainly a skill in story telling.
Here Emily blunt is our protagonist so we learn things just as she does and through the first half of the film. We realize we are on a mission, but just like her the rules and true objective are confusing and the rules keep changing. So that we are constantly confused even when the audience thinks it knows where the film is going.
She makes a good lead as her character proves both tougher and more fragile then she is presented. Seeing her in EDGE OF TOMMOROW convinced most audiences of her ability to be tough. Which she uses here, but here she also reminds us of how deep and emotional she can be whole Doing or at least showing so little.
Initially, the director was asked to rewrite Emily Blunt's part for a man. But, Denis Villeneuve wanted Emily Blunt for the role after he saw her in The Young Victoria.
The film could easily be compared to films like TRAFFIC. For how it mainly shows the government side of taking down drug cartels, but the film also manages to tell small Individual stories of different characters and their position in this trade. What it also manages to do is remind the audience yes we are in this films singular world, but there is a greater real bigger world out there. That is our reality that these characters live in also.
Some night even compare the film to ZERO DARK THIRTY. If they did the only reason I can see is that they both have a female protagonist who learns to become more cautious and tougher as the film goes along. As well as learning more information about her supposed target through various different governmental agencies. As well as working with special teams to extract certain people to get to main targets. Though that film is more fact based. This one deals with a real subject, but manages to create it's own story. This film is truly it's own Animal
No matter what is shown and not shown this film is brutal. It is a cutthroat world they operate in.
There are some nitpicking like why at first do they forbid her partner access to go with them. Then throughout they seem to not mind if he is there.
Josh Brolin is good as the charismatic leader of this force. Who seems to operate in bureaucracy and in shadows, but the films MVP is Benicio Del Toro as a badass man of mystery. Though his character is mostly quiet. There is an intensity and toughness about him. That makes him look world weary, but constantly sharp. He takes no prisoners and seems to have no moral guide. I missed this type of performance from del toro. He played this type in SAVAGES, but that character was more of a loud mouth and sadistic for fun. Here he does it because he has to and can. If it helps achieve whatever mission he is on.
Jon Bernthal, Josh Brolin, Maximiliano Hernandez, and Benicio Del Toro are all involved with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bernthal plays Frank Castle/Punisher (Daredevil), Brolin plays Thanos (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron), Hernandez plays Agent Sitwell (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agents of SHIELD) and Del Toro plays The Collector (Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy)
Throughout the film. The story plays out slowly only revealing itself when it has to. Even when we are privy of scenes and information that blunt isn't. There isn't too much revealed. So we are still just as unsure as she is. History is more reveled slowly about the characters rather then present it as soon as we meet them.
"This is the land of wolves, and you're not a wolf." Declares Benicio Del Toro's Alejadro to Emily's Kate Macer. Ironically, Benicio and Emily Blunt had starred together in 2010's "The Wolfman" in which Benicio played the titular wolf character.
The shots throughout are beautifully composed and framed. That makes the territories they govern and go through come Alive. Even in their plainness. They feel constantly full of mystery even though they are mostly plain.
Thought the film is structured well and directed well. It doesn't feel overly stylized.
This film is a doozy, it is wild, yet calm. Epic and far reaching yet small.
The acting that plays out constantly or at least the threat of it Is not the kind you expect in a film Like this. No big action set pieces that rely on the audience finding a thrill. Like it is a roller coaster. Often the violence is either surprising, quick or just plain unorganized in the manner that it happens. This isn't a thrill seeking movie. It is a thrill feeling movie.
Though it more relies on a moral meter. Rather than having a clear political message or even discussing the politics of the situation. It is matter of fact, yet offers a deep reserve for the audience to ponder. As it Also doesn't offer any answers. Leaving it more of an open ended film. It's not even really too much of a political film More like an extreme procedural.
Now while this film could have been made with any director. I believe the reason the film excels is because of director Dennis Villeneuve his style totally fits in with the story and reminds one of the promise he showed with the film INCENDIES. As with his other films though acclaimed. The style for me never quite fit the stories. Or the stories never quite fit his style. They took too many wrong turns or all there seemed to be was that style and little to no substance at least nothing deep. As the direction seemed to suggest.