So, good job? The movie is about Mexican drug cartels and Emily Blunt (kind of), and it is a piece of work. There’s not a particularly strong narrative throughline (or, what’s there isn’t really elaborated, and we’re kept as in the dark as Kate (Emily Blunt’s character) is), but it’s got a lot of violence, with some particular flourishes of explicit torture, and a whole whack of Disturbing Imagery. So when I first left the theater, I was kind of lost and disturbed, because it felt like all of this nastiness didn’t add up to much.
Then I talked it over with my movie-going buddy and it became obvious that that was the point. Spoiler alert: Mexican drug cartels are bad. Also, we’re not always the good guys, or if we are, we’re not always doing good things to get the information we need. Basically, the whole thing is a mess. And so the movie is like hey, this is a mess. Look at all the sadness and the extreme, oppressive violence. And so you’re like k thanks movie! I… feel much sadder now and vaguely queasy. I agree that this is very bad, and I see it much more graphically now. So… uh… thanks? Question mark? More question marks?
Which isn’t to say it’s a bad movie, because it’s not. It’s extremely well-constructed and largely very well-acted (particularly by Benicio del Toro, who I forgot was Benicio del Toro and then remembered 3/4 through the movie that no, hold on, this guy is an actor too, he’s not just a real CIA torturer type brought in. Huh.). The score is particularly remarkable, using a motif of a kind of heartbeat pounding thing that makes things extra tense and uncomfortable. And man, this movie is super into making you uncomfortable. Which, again, thanks? It’s successful, I can give it that.
To coin a phrase, it’s a good movie I’ll never watch again. It’s hard to say it’s an “excellent” movie; it’s excellently constructed, for sure, but for deeply unpleasant purposes. It isn’t the kind of movie you’re supposed to–or should–actually like. But it’s good that it’s there. Also, there is only one female character in the whole movie, so it fails the Bechdel test, but is actually quite good on the skeezy misogynistic front otherwise.
Neither recommended nor not recommended