Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), an idealistic FBI agent, is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.

Denis Villeneuve, the director of 2013’s Prisoners, has returned to the director’s seat with another thrilling and powerful flick. Sicario was often marketed as just another action flick with nothing more than cliche gunshots and explosions, but with a director like Villeneuve, I knew that wasn’t what Sicario would ultimately be. Instead, Sicario is thrilling, heart-pounding, powerful, fantastically acted, and beautifully shot. Emily Blunt delivers a strong female performance, probably the best of her career. I have never seen her as such a deep, driven character, and she portrays her role with lots of emotion and fear that feels real. Benicio del Toro’s performance felt very mysterious and dark, which I liked. Josh Brolin is also great, as a fun, laid-back character.

The movie’s cinematography stands out in such an amazing way. Roger Deakins shoots every single shot of this movie with such brilliance and detail. There are some simply breathtaking shots, whether they are large scale shots of a warring Mexico, or shots through night vision goggles of geared-up FBI agents traveling through dark tunnels. Some of these night shots are made terrifying with the effects of the sound and angle at which they are shot. This movie’s cinematography is the best of the year, and definitely deserves an Oscar.

Although not much besides the action happens within the first half of the film, it is often thrilling, and even when there is only the slightest amount of tension, it can be very suspenseful. By the time I was at the final half of the movie, my heart was pounding from all the suspense. The suspense builds up, and is ended in a perfect way. The movie’s ending sums up the film perfectly, and didn’t need to go any further. The movie has some pessimistic themes about the US/Mexico border’s danger, but conveys it in a very realistic way that makes you pulled in even more to the film’s setting and characters.

Sicario is a very powerful and thrilling film, and another strong picture from Denis Villeneuve. With a strong theme, excellent cinematography, and great performances, Sicario has thrilled me like no other film this year, and is a definite watch for ages 15 and up.

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Everest is the exhilarating true story of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which a climbing expedition on Mt. Everest, led by Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) and Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), was devastated by a severe storm.

After Gravity showed you the suffering of being in space, Everest demonstrates the horrors of being at the highest place in the world, at a cruising altitude of 747, in dazzling IMAX 3D. Everest is a visual spectacle, using barely any CGI or effects, and filmed beautifully, showing you the amazing but terrifying landscape of Mount Everest. Every shot is incredible and beautiful look at. I felt sucked into the movie’s setting when I saw it in IMAX 3D. The movie’s score is also very well done.

Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, and John Hawkes all did an incredible job acting as terrified climbers who have something to come back home for. Jake Gyllenhaal is also very good in his role, but he’s only likable and decently written, not amazing. Emily Watson and Keira Knightley are also good, but Robin Wright is miscast and overacted. Sam Worthington has a decent small role, and Michael Kelly is solid, too.

Everest may seem like it’s only some amazing views, but that’s not it. Once you’re an hour through the film, a storm approaches, threatening the climbers that we have related with. At this point, all the terror and amazement increases as the climbers struggle to survive. There is so much suspense that my breath was taken away from me, and I was on the very edge of my seat. It is very hard to watch what these climbers went through, but the theater experience ultimately leaves you in awe.

Everest is ultimately able to convey the beauty and horrors of the titular mountain in such a touching, amazing, and terrifying way. It is realistic, intense, wonderfully shot and directed, well-acted, and an unforgettable way too kick off the Oscar season.

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