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RJ Collins
Philippe A. Haddad, Maurice Compte, Danny Trejo
Writing Credits:
Rich Ronat

An American tries to dominate the Mexican drug cartels.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 12/14/2021

• Audio Commentary with Cinematographer Pascal Combes-Knoke, Producer Ross Campbell and Actors Philippe A. Haddad and Maurice Compte
• “The Family You Choose” Featurette
• “The Art of the Possible” Featurette


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American Sicario [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 20, 2022)

Despite the similar titles, don’t expect 2021’s American Sicario to offer a sequel to 2015’s Sicario. However, one should anticipate common themes, as both explore the worlds of narcotics kingpins.

Unsurprisingly, Mexican citizens usually run Mexican drug cartels. American-born Erik Vasquez (Philippe A. Haddad) plans to alter this trend and he strives to dominate the Mexican trade.

While Vasquez attempts to build his own empire, he encounters problems when he finds challenges from rivals, the DEA and others. This leads Vasquez to fend off troubles on multiple fronts as he tries to both maintain his fortune and simply stay alive.

As implied at the start, viewers may expect American to come as an extension of 2015’s Sicario or its sequel, 2018’s Day of the Soldado. When I went into American, I fretted that it would offer little more than a cheap knock-off that tried to capitalize on the success of the earlier flicks.

Because I don’t know the motivations of those behind American, I won’t judge what prompted them to make the movie and if they hoped to piggyback off the Sicario flicks. However, I will state that this becomes a flawed attempt to delve into the genre.

The main problem stems from our lead, as Erik provides a frightfully dull character. He never seems intriguing or dynamic in any way, so he leaves a major void at the heart of the film.

This becomes a bigger problem because the narrative of American fumbles and bumbles on its way to nowhere. Oh, various plot points occur, but it feels like most of the movie shows random shots of Erik and others as the make threats.

Nothing here flows. Instead, the “story” just rambles along without much coherence as it meanders toward a pointless finale.

Haddad fails to do anything to elevate Erik above his cliché portrayal in the script. The actor scowls and grimaces but can’t find any real personality in the part.

The score pours on ominous music nearly from start to finish, as if those involved figured this would convince the viewer that actual drama occurs. The technique doesn’t work, and the heavy-handed score just turns into a needless distraction.

Try as I might, I can’t find anything to make American Sicario a worthwhile endeavor. Slow, flaccid and dull, it becomes a weak entry in the “drug kingpin” genre.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

American Sicario appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The picture looked terrific.

Sharpness was always strong. Nary a smidgen of softness occurred, so the movie looked accurate and concise.

I noticed no jaggies or moiré effects, and edge enhancement never manifested itself. In addition, the film failed to display any print defects.

Given its setting, the palette opted largely for an arid amber tone, with some teal tossed in as well. Within those constraints, the colors seemed fine, as they showed appropriate range.

Blacks were dark and full, and shadows showed good range. This was a consistently strong presentation.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it brought a perfectly serviceable effort. Because it focused on characters more than action, the soundfield lacked many opportunities for theatrics.

This meant music became the most substantial factor, as effects leaned toward an atmospheric sensibility most of the time. A few violent scenes added some punch, but they remained infrequent. Though the track didn’t offer much breadth, it suited the story.

Audio quality worked fine, with speech that sounded natural and concise. Music appeared full and dynamic, with nice range.

As noted, effects didn’t become a huge factor, but those elements remained accurate and well-rendered. Overall, this felt like an adequate sonic experience for this kind of movie.

A few extras appear here, and we find an audio commentary from cinematographer Pascal Combes-Knoke, producer Ross Campbell and actors Philippe A. Haddad and Maurice Compte, All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, cinematography and visual design, sets and locations, stunts and action, editing, and related topics.

At best, this becomes a competent overview of the production, but it never threatens to become anything more engaging than that. While we find a decent look at the flick, nothing especially compelling materializes.

Two featuettes follow, and The Family You Choose lasts 22 minutes, 35 seconds. It includes info from Haddad, Campbell, Compte, director RJ Collins, screenwriter Rich Ronat, and actors Paolo Cesar, Cali Morales, Dionysiio Basco, and Danny Trejo.

“Choose” looks at the project’s roots and story/characters, cast and performances. Some insights emerge – such as when Morales discusses her research – but a lot of “Choose” just repeats moments from the movie.

The Art of the Possible spans eight minutes, 14 seconds and offers notes from Combes-Knoke as he covers photography and visual choices. He gives us a positive overview.

As an attempt at the crowded gangster genre, American Sicario finds little compelling to say. The movie provides a sluggish, muddled story that goes nowhere of interest. The Blu-ray provides excellent visuals and good audio along with a decent set of supplements. Don’t expect anything other than boredom from this blah movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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