Sicario (Blu-ray) (2015)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 27-Jan-2016

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Stepping into Darkness: The Visual Design of Sicario (16:45)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Blunt, Brolin & Benicio: Portraying the Characters (14:34)
Featurette-Battle Zone: The Origins of Sicario (13:44)
Featurette-A Pulse from the Desert: The Score of Sicario (6:18)
Trailer-x 3 for other Roadshow films
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 121:18
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Denis Villeneuve

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Emily Blunt
Benicio Del Toro
Josh Brolin
Daniel Kaluuya

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Johann Johannsson

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† An FBI / SWAT team led by Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) and her partner Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya) raid a house in Arizona belonging to Manuel Diaz (Bernardo Saracino), the number 2 man in a cartel running drugs and sex slaves across the US border from Juarez in Mexico. They are shocked when they find 42 trussed and bagged bodies inside the walls of the house, victims of the drugs wars. Kate knows that the law enforcement agencies are losing the war against the cartels and when she is asked to join a special interagency task force run by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) she volunteers.

†††† Kate is a conscientious and by the book law officer, believing in proper procedure and due process. She quickly discovers that law enforcement to Graver is not black and white; he operates on both sides of the border and believes that to damage the cartels you need to use more extreme methods. Graverís main operative is the brooding and enigmatic Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) and Kate soon gets a taste of the teamís operations when they cross the border to Juarez to pick up the number 3 man in the cartel for extradition to the US which results in a bloody and very public shootout at the border on their way back. As Kateís misgivings about Graver and Alejandro grow she is drawn into a world she does not understand and where there is no such thing due process. Kate also discovers that she is just a pawn in game where the other players have a far different agenda to hers.

†††† Sicario is directed by Denis Villeneuve, whose film Enemy (2013), starring Jake Gyllenhaal I reviewed on this site and very much enjoyed. Sicario is a very different beast; a violent, brutal and very intense film which could have been drawn straight from the headlines as the recent recapture and extradition of drug king Joaquin Guzman indicates. As befitting an action film, the set pieces are sudden, loud, chaotic and bloody but Sicario is interesting because, for all the action and headlines, it is first and foremost a character driven film benefiting from some fine performances.

†††† Our point of entry into Sicario is Kate, a woman of ethics and a belief in the law who is clearly being kept in the dark and ultimately is in way over her head. In Edge of Tomorrow (2014) Emily Blunt showed that she could do action and this is put to good use in Sicario but Blunt adds a vulnerability to her character which keeps us with her in her confusion when bad things are happening. Josh Brolin has a lesser character arc to play with, in fact we find out almost nothing about him; he could be everyoneís favourite avuncular uncle except he is very calculating in everything he does. However the standout performance is a fabulous Benicio Del Toro; his Alejandros a deadly man with a very dark and painful past but who says very little; in fact it seems that 90% of the dialogue written for him was removed from the final script. This matters not: Del Toro has the charisma and ability to say most things with his eyes and to fill every word of his remaining dialogue with meaning. Del Toro first came to wider notice for his quirky performance in The Usual Suspects (1995) and he has won a best supporting actor Oscar for Traffic (2000). Sicario has received three Oscar nominations but none for acting; instead it was nominated in the cinematography, score and sound editing categories.

†††† All seem worthy nominees. The DP of Sicario is Roger Deakins, who has been nominated 13 times now for an Oscar, including for Unbroken (2014) and Skyfall (2012), but who has never won. The desert landscapes of Sicario, and one sequence of the Delta team silhouetted against the setting sun, are indeed spectacular and make full use of the widescreen frame, so he may have better fortune this time. The score by Icelander Johann Johannsson is less music cues as tonal variations using cello and percussion that are almost visceral and very much add to the tension. Sound editor Alan Robert Murray has already been nominated for Oscars 7 times (excluding the Sicario nomination) and has won twice for Clint Eastwoodís Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) and American Sniper (2014); the Sicario sound editing is as one would expect, innovative, such as the score picking up from helicopter engines, aggressive and well balanced, enhancing our enjoyment of the film.

†††† Sicario is a film where nothing is black and white. With a great cast and a master cinematographer behind the lens, Sicario is an intense, sometimes brutal, always complex character driven thriller where little is as it appears.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


†††† Sicario is presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, close to the original 2.35:1, in 1080p, using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

†††† This is film where the desert landscape is almost a character; many shots use the widescreen frame to excellent effect, including figures silhouetted against a sunset, although colours have been manipulated to give an over-contrasted, dusty, bright look. Some scenes under lights evince the digital yellowish tinge, which does affect skin tones, but the detail on faces in close-up is pristine, blacks inky solid and shadow detail excellent. One night scene where the POV alternatives between individual team members with different night vision goggles, some green and some black and grey, contrasted with the nightís inky blackness, is neatly done.

†††† There is occasionally slight movement blur against mottled surfaces but otherwise I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

†††† English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available plus subtitles automatically translated the sections of Spanish dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


†††† The feature audio is a choice of English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1), Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0 maximised for late night listening and English audio description track using a female voice (Dolby Digital 2.0).

†††† My system is not yet set up as 7.1 but even in 5.1 Sicario is impressive. Dialogue was mostly clear. The film uses silences to good effect but otherwise the surrounds and rears were used for music and effects such as helicopter and car engines, gunshots, bullet hits, explosions and general mayhem while there are also pans such as helicopter engines. The score by Johann Johannsson is part of the sound design, using tonal variations of cello and percussion to build and enhance the tension. The sub-woofer added rumble to the engines and explosions and bass to the music.

††††Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Start-Up Trailers

†††† Trailers for Black Mass (1:33), Secret in Their Eyes (2:25) and No Escape (2:16) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

Stepping into Darkness: The Visual Design of Sicario (16:45)

††††This is a decent featurette, not a praise piece. It looks at the complexity of the scripting, realism, light and darkness and the look of the film and includes film and behind the scenes footage, stills, storyboards and comments by the director Denis Villeneuve, writer Taylor Sheridan, director of photography Roger Deakins, the production designer, storyboard artist, set decorator, three of the producers and cast member Daniel Kaluuya.

Blunt, Brolin & Benicio: Portraying the Characters of Sicario (14:34)

†††† The director, writer, Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin plus a couple of the producers talk about the casting and characters of the main cast. Also includes stills and on set footage. Reasonable.

Battle Zone: The Origins of Sicario (13:44)

†††† A look at the real drug wars on both sides of the border which inspired the screenplay of Sicario using video footage and still pictures plus interviews with authors, journalists, the director and writer of Sicario and the Vice President of the Juarez Chamber of Commerce. Sobering.

A Pulse from the Desert: The Score of Sicario (6:18)

†††† Director Denis Villeneuve and composer Johann Johannsson discuss their intentions and the composing and recording of the filmís score. Worth a look.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† Other than adding a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio dub the US Region A release of Sicario is the same as ours, with the same extras.


†††† I really enjoyed Sicario. It is a superior thriller with loud and chaotic action sequences but the film is driven by an intelligent script where nothing is black and white, interesting characters, a fabulous Benicio Del Toro, stunning visuals and a visceral cello and percussion score.

†††† The video and audio are very good. The extras are worthwhile and are the same as are available elsewhere.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, February 04, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE