SICARIO (15A, 121 minutes) Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Starring Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin.
Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up to the marvellously surreal Enemy (2013) is a much tamer beast altogether. But like a weird hybrid of Seven and Heat (both 1995), Sicario still manages to unsettle and excite with some brutal, unnerving imagery and kinetic action sequences (captured by the peerless Roger Deakins). Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is an idealistic FBI agent coerced into a cross-departmental drug task force, headed by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), a dodgy government agent with questionable ethics and Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) a Colombian “consultant” with his own agenda.
Morality disappears when Macer crosses the Mexican border and an increasing sense of unease displaces her naiveté. Regardless of the quality of material she’s given to work with, Blunt is never less than exceptional and it’s heartening to see her perseverance rewarded with meatier leading roles. It’s impossible to come away from Sicario without speculating on where Villeneuve will take the forthcoming Blade Runner (1982) sequel. Whether or not that long-gestating project is advisable, on this evidence it’s an enticing prospect.
RED ARMY (84 minutes, 12A) Directed by Gabe Polsky. With Slava Fetisov, Vladislav Tretiak, Scotty Bowman.
Global politics and sport make for unlikely bedfellows in this engaging documentary on the undefeated Russian Olympic team of 1980. From Ronald Reagan’s opening salvo to the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Gabe Polsky’s film is like a microcosm of life during the Cold War. The legendary Slava Fetisov makes for a delightfully truculent interviewee (kicking off proceedings by giving Polsky the finger). His refusal to be painted as a victim, in spite of appalling treatment at the hands of his coach, country and fellow teammates, is commendable. Red Army is worth watching for the archival footage and none-more-Eighties video indents alone, and the off-guard moments between set-ups often reveal more than the interviews proper. Fascinating stuff.
Mark is enforcing a social media blackout until he’s caught up with last night’s Bake Off final. See WhyBother.ie for a closer look at some of this week’s new releases.