WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

PLUGGED IN RATING

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Kate knows all about nightmares. She's helped put a stop to several. She's an FBI agent, and she and her partner, Reggie, specialize in recovering kidnap victims. They've likely seen plenty of things not fit for print.

But her experience couldn't prepare her for what she sees in Chandler, Ariz. She and her team crash through a wall, expecting to find a handful of innocents held by a handful of the guilty. What they find instead makes national news: dozens of bodies behind the drywall, their heads bagged in plastic. And when someone discovers a padlocked trapdoor in a shed out back, the building blows up—killing two of her men.

It was the work of a powerful drug cartel, clearly—only this house of horrors wasn't in Juarez or Tijuana, but a comfortable suburb of Phoenix. The drug war is moving north of the border.

Kate’s pulled into a high-level meeting and asked whether she'd like to pursue this case a little further as part of a special task force. She says yes, and she's quickly spirited away on a private jet to "the El Paso area." Two other people share the plane with her: Matt, a sandal-wearing sort who says he’s an advisor to the Department of Defense; and Alejandro, who’s sleeping in a seat across the aisle. Matt says he's another DoD guy, but he's not American. He’s Colombian. And Colombia is a place where drugs are a $10 billion industry. What does he do there? Alejandro's not saying, and no one else is telling. When Kate asks him how cartels work, all he says is, "It's like asking me how a watch works. For now, let's just keep an eye on the time."

Time is indeed important. Kate learns that their trip to "the El Paso area" is, in fact, a jaunt into Juarez, Mexico, where Matt and Alejandro plan to pick up a high-level cartel member and forcibly export him back across the border for, ahem, questioning. The whole trip is legally iffy, of course, but it’s not until several people are killed at the border—all cartel thugs—that Kate begins to ask herself just who these hombres are and how far they're willing to go.

Matt doesn’t deny that he and his team stretch the law to get to their good end. They’re disruptors, he says, jarring cartels from their sense of business security. The more disruptions, the more mistakes a kingpin might make. And that’s who they’re after—Fausto, the top drug dog. If Fausto goes down, the cartel will too.

"To find him would be like discovering a vaccine," Matt says.

But what's the cost for this cure? What laws will be buried? How many people will be killed? For idealistic and usually ethical Kate, will the price be too high? She could walk away. But she knows she won't.

Advertisement

Positive Elements

Kate and, eventually, her partner, Reggie, sign on with Matt to try to do some good in the world. They've seen firsthand the death and destruction meted out by Fausto's cartel. They've seen how drugs have turned Juarez into a war zone, and how some of that violence has crept across the border. But Kate also believes in the rule of law. And as her cohorts upend or simply ignore the rules put in place to keep society safe and ordered (and to keep the guardians of that society within their bounds), she has a problem with it—and eventually shows that she's not just willing to go along.

Sicario, in a twisted way, also acknowledges the power of family—even among really bad sorts. Alejandro knows that most of the cartel thugs he interrogates have children, and he uses their love for them as a pressure point to get the information he wants. "What you do now, you do for your family," he tells one of them, knowing they'll do anything to keep their wives, sons and daughters safe. (I told you it was twisted.)

Spiritual Content

A cross hangs on the wall of a Mexican police officer's house, and his wife crosses herself as she sits down to eat.

Sexual Content

Kate walks through her house with her shirt off, revealing her bra as Reggie sits and watches. Reggie jokingly suggests she should invest in new underwear; Kate tells him that no one but him has seen her in it for a really long time.

When the two go out to a bar one night, Reggie peppers Kate with advice on how she might get a date (and makes a crude joke about incest). We see her dance sensually with one of Reggie's friends, Ted. Then they kiss and go back to Kate's apartment, where they’re about to have sex.

Violent Content

The evening turns violent when Kate discovers that her paramour is in the employ of the cartel. They struggle and fight, and Ted nearly strangles Kate before a timely visitor interrupts.

That’s far from the most violent moment in Sicario. The story, dependent in part on the truly horrific real-life stratagems of drug cartels, pulls no punches. The 42 bodies Kate discovers in the walls are bloody and disturbing—their very humanity obscured by the red-and-brown-stained bags over their heads. In the aftermath of the explosion, we see a horribly hurt man crawl away from the wreckage … and a stray arm laying in the dirt.

Naked and dismembered bodies hang from bridges. (We see them in graphic detail when Kate finds them and also in the pictures she takes.) Fresher corpses often leave bloody splashes on walls or cars. Blood pools under some of the newly dead. A man bleeds out after his throat is cut. Dozens of people are shot, many of them killed, including a husband and wife and their two young sons. Others are manhandled and beaten. A woman is wrestled to the ground. We hear about a beheading and death by way of acid.

Alejandro tortures people to get information. (We see some of his bloody tactics.) He threatens to have men rape children.

Crude or Profane Language

More than 50 f-words and about 10 s-words. Also: "a--," "b--ch," "d--n" and "pr--k." God's name is misused a handful of times, Jesus' at least a half-dozen.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Drugs are at the center of the cartel's power, of course, and we see dozens of bricks of cocaine. Kate and Reggie drink beer at a bar. There's wine at a dinner table. There’s talk about barely getting sober before work begins. A policeman pours whiskey into his coffee. Kate smokes cigarettes (as do others), and we hear her wistfully longing for a smoke.

Other Negative Elements

After finding the bodies in the walls, Kate and others retch and vomit outside the house.

Conclusion

Sicario’s horrors are rooted in grim fact.

Mexico’s real-life drug lords torture and mutilate victims as a matter of course and buy policemen like pieces of penny taffy. In 2010, some 3,000 citizens were murdered in Juarez, where much of Sicario takes place. That’s more than eight people per day. (In San Antonio—a city about the same size as Juarez—79 murders were reported that same year.)

Maybe we can understand why Matt and Alejandro believe extra-special, extra-legal measures are necessary to battle this evil.

"You're not a wolf," Alejandro tells Kate, "and this is a land of wolves now."

But it’s through Kate’s eyes that we see the growing extremes her comrade will go to in tracking and taking down those wolves. We see the horrors that the “good” guys perpetrate right alongside the terror that’s rained down by the bad. And so Sicario asks us questions of morality: How far is too far? To fight such monstrous evil, is it necessary to become evil ourselves? Alejandro has one answer. Kate leans toward another. And moviegoers may find themselves taking sides.

But I will leave you with one more question: When we rightly look away in horror as the vicious acts of real-life cartels are splashed across the news, does it make sense to pay to be entertained by such insanity perpetrated by fictional cartels as their dirty deeds are splashed across movie screens?

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!