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It has been long established that the process to legally bring down a criminal is a long and expensive process, yet crossing Ts and dotting Is are part of many people’s jobs. For one agent, though, she grows weary of cleaning up the mess once it hits American soil and volunteers to take part in cutting off a leg of the drug trade. Perhaps volunteering for more than she bargained for.
Trigger Warning(s): Dismembered body parts and domestic violence
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
In and out drugs move through the border, and by the time FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) learns about them, bodies are already dead and rotting, and the drugs have already been distributed and money paid. But then comes an opportunity from Department of Defense advisor Matt (Josh Brolin). He is heading over to Mexico with a buddy of his. Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), and they are going to cause some chaos. Said chaos is being made all in an effort to begin dismantling the drug distribution organization Manuel Diaz (Bernardo P. Saracino) participates in.
I loved the fact that Blunt’s character wasn’t made into some sort of Rambo force. She was well trained, and skilled, but still vulnerable to attackers and wasn’t portrayed as if she was unstoppable.
Also, I like the fact that rather than her playing all knowing, or an insider, she was just as unfamiliar as the viewer. This made it so she was like the eyes, ears, and vocals for questions, for us.
When it comes to Benicio Del Toro, a part of me feels that characters like Alejandro are better suited for his, “I just got out of bed and I’m pissed I had to” look than the role he had in A Perfect Day. For he just has the look of an anti-hero to me, which essentially Alejandro is. I mean, Alejandro comes into the movie as a mysterious figure, one seeking revenge as a form of justice, and you cannot deny how badass Del Toro plays the role.
With people of Mexican descent playing the majority of antagonist roles, it was nice that there was some sort of attempt to not paint them all as bad people. For whether it was showing cops fighting alongside Matt and his men; showing them just living their lives, playing handball; or in the case of Silvio (Maximiliano Hernandez), who seemingly was just trying to survive, I’d argue as negative of a depiction one could see, there was some sort of attempt to perhaps counterbalance that.
Before I forget, Matt, especially as he works with Alejandro, is a nice comical force for the film. For even without truly cracking a single joke, it is hard to not want to shamefully chuckle a little from his antics. One scene in particular which comes to mind is during an interrogation scene between Matt, Alejandro, and a member of Manuel’s drug cartel named Guillermo (Edgar Arreola). Guillermo claims to not know English, but that is only until Alejandro shows up and then he looks at Matt like, “well I have been practicing on Rosetta Stone” but at that point, Matt is already done trying to be friendly and lets Alejandro work.
I found some of Kate’s decisions, like telling Matt to his face she was going to snitch, after a mission in which they could make it seem she died by enemy hands, to be rather stupid.
Though I liked the fact the movie did address that Kate isn’t just an agent, but also a woman, I must admit a part of me became uncomfortable when Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya), Kate’s FBI partner, was criticizing the way she dressed, what type of bra she wore, and how much she weighed. I mean, I get they seemingly have a close friendship, but in an attempt to remind us she is more than an agent, but also a woman, I feel like they fell into the shallower aspects of people perceive to be directly related to womanhood.
On The Fence
As much as I liked the brutality, and how raw, the ending was when it came to Alejandro’s storyline, it was surprising he killed who he did. Mostly because most movies don’t go there. So I’m a bit on the fence about that situation.
Final Thought(s): Worth Seeing
I will not claim this as perhaps one of the best films of the year, or recent memory, but it does stand out enough to be worth seeing. For whether it is Blunt’s rare character who is our lead, but not shown off as some Rambo type who just takes orders and never asks questions; Brolin slightly eccentric, and comical, character; or Del Toro’s mysterious hitman in search for revenge; I feel this is definitely worth checking out.
Things To Note
Do you ever wonder when there is a female lead, especially in movies like this, if whether the writer and/ or director, implants a sense of sexism for the lead or if it comes solely from perception?