The bodies that were hanged in the viaduct were naked and mutilated. They remain suspended in the air where everyone can see, polyps spread in the deep roots of the city. No one gives a damn. They see, take photos, whisper about it, and hope never to come across whoever had done this. They resume their lives as if nothing had happened, as if it doesn't concern any of them. They, who live in the city, do not act.

Two middle-aged men with tucked in shirts play squash in a decrepit wall, tight of space. Younger men, shirtless, exposing skins covered in tattoos, shooting hoops in the basketball court. None of them paid heed to the American convoy, armored vehicles, geared up for war. None even spared a glance where they were going. Just some place around where bullets and brain matter will be everywhere. Violence is the norm around these parts of the city of Juarez, Mexico. People shrug it off. It is none of their concern.

A man with a thick mustache wonders out aloud: About the mutilated bodies. Did they deserve such treatment? To be butchered and hanged up the way there were? They must have, to earn someone's boiling ire.

Across the border from Juarez, American militants stand atop rooftops, smoking and peering through binoculars, keeping an eye out for "fireworks." And we see through their eyes, a conflagration erupting in the city. A hail of gunfire is exchanged, red and blue lights spin as Mexican policia rush to the scene. How someone, simply wanted to look at "fireworks," just came up to that rooftop, looked around, and immediately spotted one, begs the question: Does this literally happen every day? Through the binoculars, we see, Juarez is a war zone.

In English, "Sicario" means hitman. It is a film about violence, war on drugs, shattered lives, and the inability to stand up to what one thinks is right. The minimalistic soundtrack, by Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson, filled the doldrums of aerial shots with tension and fear. The droning music in the entire film, most especially in the Juarez scenes brought a sense of nausea. It was a stressful watch, wondering about the outcome of the situation that might become. Though I never felt the dread if someone will be shot in the head. What "happens" in the situation, is what kept my eyes on the screen.

We spend most of the film with FBI Agent, Kate Macy (Emily Blunt), taking on the role of an observer, and not by choice. None of the crew in the task force where Macy has been assigned tells her about their operations, or give her the slightest bit of information. The CIA in charge, Matt (Josh Brolin) tells her vague details that turned out to be different from what she expected. She is appalled and distraught by the manner of conduct that is happening around her and seeks a solution.

In this, Macy represents the idealism that we all want to inherit for ourselves. Go by the book, know the moral and ethical differences that separates ourselves from the monsters. Build a solid case by gathering enough incriminating evidences, put them to trial, and let the jury decide. That is how she sees the world. That is the norm society has given us, to differentiate from abduction to incarceration, from murder to execution. But is it the practical one, when in this reality, evil is not even trying to hide, it stands in front of you in plain sight, close to your nose, breathing at your face, smiling. In such maddening situations, I think it becomes impossible to think through this without blinking.

There's nothing you can do.

You will die, if you dare.

The show stealer here is Benicio Del Toro. His performance as Alejandro, as expected, is stellar, graceful, and powerful. He is a man of calm words, though no less violent than the men they capture.

"Sicario" is not a pretty film. It's not about witnessing and addressing evil. It is merely a commentary how people refuse to take action, when, banded together, might actually make any real difference to the world. But how can they? When the very people who had vowed to protect them are part of the problem: Abscesses in society, government, and culture, the puss reaching deep into the root of it all.

Morals and self-preservation becomes a hot topic. As norms, we can only choose one, between the two. No one but the wicked are allowed the efficiency of greed.

Gunfire is heard from a soccer field, devoid of grass. The metal goals are stained in rust, and the nets are loose. The children and their parents fall into silence, turning toward the source of the gunshot. It seems time has stopped, but only for a moment, and the ball is launched into the air, the game resumes, the children happy, the parents cheering. Whatever that gunshot was, it's none of their concern.

If you're sensitive and easily bothered: We're rating this "Don't Gulp."


About the author: Jon Castillo

Jonathan is hiding from a lynch mob after messing with the wrong basketball team. His favorite song is "Boys do Fall in Love" by Robin Gibb.

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