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  • >> Speaker 1: First 40 minutes of Sicario are some of the best in recent memory.

  • Culminating in the brilliance that is the Juarez border crossing bridge sequence.

  • So, we're diving in and for this entry into our brilliant moment series

  • we're looking at the structure of tension in Villenueve's Sicario.

  • >> [MUSIC]

  • >> Speaker 1: After an honorable mention-worthy raid on an abandoned

  • Arizona house, led by FBI agent Kate Maser, reveals

  • dozens of bodies inside the drywall and dozens of explosives rigged in the shed.

  • Kate finds herself offered an opportunity on an inter-agency task

  • force to get the men who were really responsible for the violence.

  • But there's something rotten in Denmark.

  • Maybe it's the smug, need to know attitude of the besandled Josh Brolin, or

  • the implication that the somewhere near El Paso they'll be going to is

  • actually Juarez, Mexico.

  • And somewhere between the dangerous mystery of Benicio Del Toro's Alejandro,

  • the serious military hardware they're sporting, and the warnings about where

  • an attempt will be made, we realize that we're on a crash course with violence.

  • >> Speaker 2: Delta if you can identify yourself so

  • everyone knows who to hide behind when shit hits the fan.

  • >> Speaker 1: So, when Johann Johansson's brilliantly grimy score swells for

  • the first time as we arrive in cartel controlled Mexican

  • border town we know something's going down.

  • And the tension mounts, and mounts, and mounts, and mounts.

  • The convoy has to divert when they hear gunshots.

  • >> [MUSIC]

  • >> Speaker 1: They arrive at the Juarez prison to collect the prisoner.

  • >> Speaker 3: If they try anything, it won't be at the border.

  • >> Speaker 1: They're tailed by a rogue state police officer.

  • >> Speaker 4: I spot a vehicle nine o'clock.

  • >> Speaker 1: And finally, when we've just about cut our backsides on the edge of our

  • seats, we get back to the borde, and, gridlock.

  • And this is where we expect we've been told

  • three times already that the most likely attempt will be here at the border.

  • And here we are,

  • stuck in traffic surrounded by cars, any of which could hold the enemy.

  • Especially, this one here, and, that one there.

  • The rules of engagement are clear, we can't fire until they fire.

  • We can't exit the car until they do.

  • So, we sit and we wait, wait and we wait.

  • And the simple act of rolling down a window is transformed from

  • mundane to lethal.

  • The tension builds and we're ready about to bust when we get our moment.

  • >> [SOUND] >> Speaker 5: [FOREIGN]

  • >> Speaker 6: Don't move,

  • [INAUDIBLE].

  • No, no, no, no, no, no,

  • [FOREIGN] >> Speaker 6: [SOUND]

  • [FOREIGN]

  • [SOUND]

  • >> Speaker 7: What the fuck are we doing?

  • >> [INAUDIBLE]

  • [SOUND]

  • >> Speaker 1: Holy shit,

  • right?

  • What a build up, what a climax.

  • If you're a nail biter, so sorry about your stubs.

  • If you're a pants shitter, well that's gotta be rough man.

  • So what makes this so goddamn brilliant?

  • In a word, it's tension.

  • What makes this tension?

  • How does Vilnu do that?

  • Well, let's zoom out a bit and take a look at the bridge sequence as a whole.

  • If this is the bridge sequence from here to here, at about four minutes long,

  • these parts are just tense waiting, these parts are ratcheting up the tension,

  • these are the big crescendos, and this all of just nine seconds is the action.

  • It's mostly just waiting.

  • It's just baiting breath and baiting breath, and baiting breath.

  • It's promises of violence that keep not harming.

  • How many ways do films delay the action here?

  • First we don't know where they are.

  • Then we open pour windows and

  • wait, then can't get out because of the rules of engagement.

  • Then we are in their car waiting for them to master up the courage to get out,

  • then they get out and we are trying to DS movie and then there is the talking.

  • The decision point do you wanna die?

  • And then only then about three minutes from the beginning of the sequence do we

  • get our violence, that's not all.

  • If you watch the whole war sequence,

  • you'll know we've actually been doing this for about 13 minutes.

  • This is tense waiting, this is for

  • rationing up a tension, these are the big crescendos, these moments are scary,

  • silent, waiting moments that break it up, kind of the come for storm, and

  • at this is distance, the violence just looks like this

  • >> [MUSIC] >> Speaker 1: That's nearly 13 whole

  • minutes, built entirely around nine seconds of violence.

  • Vilnu takes his time with it, where a lesser director may be tempted to rush to

  • the actiony parts, Vilnu knows that the morbid details are way more interesting.

  • 30 seconds sitting, waiting in alley isnt work.

  • It's one of the most exciting moments of the sequence, because we're with Kate.

  • Looking around every corner when things popped up.

  • And Vilnu is giving us enough clues that things will pop off and

  • that's what tension is.

  • Apprehension about something we sort of seen coming, but not exactly what, and

  • not exactly when, and not exactly how.

  • It is a burlesque strip show of violence,

  • it is incremental promises of what's to come followed by delays, and

  • when we think it's nearly upon us it's still minutes away.

  • And if we're being entirely honest the film really starts getting our hearts

  • pumping well before we get to Juarez.

  • You can follow along on our infographic.

  • In the video description to see the full landscape, but Villeneuve is

  • planting suspicions and hints of violence to come for nearly the entire movie.

  • And it is all driving towards just this,

  • nine brief seconds of brutal violence, which brings us to the violence itself.

  • It is not glossy or slick or clever.

  • There are no tactics to the violence, no dodging or back and

  • forths or clever maneuvering.

  • Instead, it's just a series of executions.

  • >> [MUSIC] >> Speaker 1: Sudden swift,

  • efficient humor.

  • Look at how the violence ebbs and

  • flows in a straight action film, where the details of the action are the plot.

  • It's an entirely different thing than Sakaria,

  • where the violence is simply a plot point, emphasis on point.

  • It is a perfect capstone on top of a brilliantly structure of sequences

  • with smart pacing down to the shot and frame level.

  • Here is our buildup.

  • Shot by shot.

  • Alejandro is trying to convince them not to do it.

  • One long push as the kettle is boiling.

  • Two shorter shots as the music crescendo.

  • Here is the instant that the enemy first moves, and then boom, boom,

  • boom, boom, boom.

  • Five quick shots in three seconds.

  • And just as soon as it started, it's over.

  • We get a slow shot like a blow off valve.

  • And then we return Turned to hate.

  • This is an excellent time for us to mention that this entire sequence and

  • most of the whole film is structured around her POV.

  • She is our audience surrogate, reacting as we react.

  • Watching as we watch.

  • Although the camera sometimes takes an omniscient In prospective it is usually

  • constrained to things she can see, and often to her explicit point of view.

  • And as we'll see after every moment of violence we return to Kate for

  • her reaction.

  • So we get it here, and just like we said, cut directly to her POV as it pivots from

  • the first part to the second, and then we almost precisely repeat the pattern.

  • Stand off, try to talk him out of it, music swells Shots quicken.

  • One of them makes a tiny move and then boom.

  • Four shots in three seconds and they're all dead,

  • almost exactly like the first car.

  • We've established a pattern and we've repeated it.

  • But the music doesn't let up.

  • So just like before, we return to Kate.

  • We get her reaction.

  • We cut to her POV.

  • It scans the field and then out of the corner of her eye,

  • we see the final black clad shooter, a state police.

  • Exactly what we'd been warned about.

  • The music swells.

  • The shots quicken, and then Kate moved.

  • Just as each moment of violence previously hinged around one of the Sonora

  • cartel members moving first, this time, Kate is the target, and the pattern that

  • Villeneuve has established against the cartel members, is now turned against her.

  • Kate's flinch sets it off.

  • We're so in tune with the pattern,

  • that now it's being used against our own surrogate.

  • And it's about 3,000 times as effective.

  • The pacing, the swell, the dread, is all pointed at us.

  • So, just like the pattern dictates, eight flinches, and boom.

  • Four shots of violence in three seconds.

  • A reaction from Kate, and then it's over.

  • The rule of threes has been satisfied.

  • Introduction, reinforcement, subversion.

  • Finally, the promise that was made long ago, has been kept.

  • The music changes from drone to a beat, and they're free.

  • With one final swell of dread at the violence they've left in their

  • wake this sequence, a culmination of Thirty minutes of build-up is complete.

  • Unfortunately, the rest of the film never quite lives up

  • to this level of brilliance.

  • Sure, the opening set piece succeeds by following this formula at a smaller level.

  • But the rest of the film wraps itself up a bit too much in the plot and

  • lingers a bit too long on some of the violence that doesn't dedicate enough

  • time to building us up to the same fever pitch attention.

  • So, why is this moment so brilliant?

  • Because it's a meticulously executed explosion of violence that has

  • almost 30 minutes of tension supporting it.

  • Because it's the culmination of an entire act's worth of anxiety.

  • And because it is a brilliantly paced microcosm

  • of the entire film's structure thus far.

  • Creating, subverting, and manipulating our expectations to a perfect climax.

  • So what do you think?

  • Anymore thoughts about this particular moment?

  • Any other moment you'd like us to take a long hard look at?

  • Let us know in the comments below and be sure to subscribe for

  • more Cinefix movie list

>> Speaker 1: First 40 minutes of Sicario are some of the best in recent memory.

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1 緊張の華麗なる瞬間 (1 Brilliant Moment of Tension)

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    Pedroli Li に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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