4 stars (out of 5)
Saturday, November 28, 2015
A great, awful film. That is, a very well made film about an awful portrayal of life, the futility of ethics and the arrogance of power. The story follows a joint effort between FBI and DEA agents trying to stem the drug flow from Mexico into the US. The DEA team is operating as a pseudo-private military organization and sees themselves as largely outside the law. The FBI agent attached to the team (so they can operate in the US) has not bought into the maverick methods. While this is a military/police action thriller, I think the strength of the film is actually in the portrayal of the deeper emotions associated with the struggle between law and "ends justify the means". This manifests in raw demonstrations of power: armed military over civilians, man over woman, revenge over justice. This power is brutal and overt, other times subtle. But it is ever present in the film. It is disturbing that any version of this could be happening in this country. It is not an optimistic look at life, but extremely effective at telling the story it wants to tell.