In a word: Intense
Finally, a good riveting action-packed movie in July, amidst a muddle of mediocre releases.
This is a good film for these times, because it highlights stark realities collectively involved in the world of illegal immigration at the Mexican border, particularly all the off-shoots of drug trafficking, human trafficking, terrorism, corruption and violence associated with it.
The early scenes show us suicide bombings inside a retail store set off by radical Islamic extremists. This leads to the focus of the movie which is the CIA operative played by Josh Brolin who is secretly assigned by the government to penetrate the cartels in order to bring criminals to justice, including the use of violence and murder if needed. Brolin’s character teams up with Alejandro Gillick, deftly played by Benicio Del Toro, who has his own tragic history connected to the deaths of loved ones. These two fine actors drive the movie, which is deep in emotion and awash with violence, particularly with the use of modern technology.
In addition to the two fine actors names above, the story also involves two teen kids, each within separate plots. Played by Elijah Rodrigez, Miguel Hernandez is a Mexican about 15 years, who skips school to join up with cartel gangs, landing him in a mess of troubles, from both sides of the law. There is a particularly intense scene toward the end of the picture in which he’s called upon to commit a murder. This leads to a powerful confrontation later in the story.
In a different situation, which all comes together toward the end, we meet Isabel Reyes, the daughter of a cartel kingpin, also about age 15, who attends private school but ends up in a fight with another girl who calls her a “narco whore.” Isabel punches her out. Later, she’s caught up in the middle of a car crash in which she is kidnapped and swept away. What she goes through to survive a series of captors is nothing more than amazing. Her role, played by actress, Isbela Moner, is central to the actions taken and/or not taken by the main characters played by Brolin and Del Toro.
It would be wrong to lay out all the plots and motives for violence to movie lovers who hate being told the details of the story in advance. So, it’s suffice to say the picture is fast-paced, very intense and involving a mixed bag of government corruption, the wills to survive, and powerful scenes involving murder and mayhem. One scene toward the end of the film simply did not pass the “plausibility” meter, but – what the heck – it’s just a movie.
This is not a movie for people who dislike violence, this story would not be as interesting without it. Foul language, yes, but not to excess. Mostly the use of the “F” bomb which fits the characters. Sex: not really.
This is an action movie that entertains and keeps you engrossed.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Del Toro receive an Oscar nomination.
I give it 9 out of 10.