Sicario (2015) - M5.8/E8

This was a very thought provoking movie.  One that can bring up some tense conversations from people on different sides of the political spectrum.   In essence, the government crosses some moral lines in order to maximize the saving of lives.  Is it ever OK to make such compromises?

While drawn from the train of science fiction and fantasy, two examples come to mind. In the book Ender's Game, the need to brutally and finally punish your enemies so that they can't seek out revenge on you is repeatedly brought up.  The following are some of the deepest lines of the novel and is an exchange that occurs between Ender and Valentine in chapter 13 of the book:
Ender: "In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it's impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them -"
Valentine: "You beat them." For a moment she was not afraid of his understanding.
Ender: "No, you don't understand. I destroy them. I make it impossible for them to ever hurt me again. I grind them and grind them until they don't exist."
Ender kills multiple boys and almost causes the genocide of an alien race.  The guilt he has to bear is insufferable. Is it OK to go so far too ensure the safety of oneself or one's family? One's country? Are the psychological, spiritual consequences worth it?

In Batman, we constantly see Batman's dilemma with confronting the Joker. If he's really such a violent criminal, shouldn't it be OK if Batman kills him?  Isn't he being irresponsible and contributing the deaths of so many by simply turning him over to the authorities?  The constant response is that if he did kill the Joker, how would he be any different from any criminals he has vowed to bring justice on?  Any different from the man who took his parents away from him?  The difference between willing to take someone's life for pleasure or to end it to ensure the lives of countless innocents that would otherwise die? There is a line that shouldn't be crossed, and it may be different for different individuals (a seemingly scapegoat statement). Otherwise, the world would be out of balance.

Was it for the benefit of the world that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed? Did it end up saving more lives in the end to end it so dramatically and brutally? Would doing so again send a similar message to similar, present-day antagonistic groups?  I don't know. I wish it were as easy as saying it's never worth it.  In the Bible, God commanded the demolishing of cities for the good of his people. Yet, on a smaller, family scale, beyond stern and occasional corporal punishment (hopefully infrequent and under control) for an out of control child, sometimes a parent has to wait out the craziness in love and patience. Granted not everyone should be treated as one's child, but it's worth thinking about, if anything, to keep us humane.

[Spoilers may follow...]

It's too easy to cross a line in the heat of emotion and give up your humanity.  In the end, the revenge killing of the man's family was wrong, but the overall operation would supposedly save so many lives.  Undoubtedly someone else would step in and re-initiate or continue the crimes committed by the drug lord.  But as also mentioned, this will continue (in part) as long as Americans use and crave illegal drugs.

Watched on VidAngel filtering out only f-words and blasphemy and it was still followable.  There are some graphic scenes of violence that could be filtered out without disturbing the storyline too much.


  1. Haven't heard of this movie, so thanks for the rec.

    As to the moral dilemma, I'll complicate the Batman example by pointing out that Batman does not know that Joker will kill again. He only thinks, suspects, or anticipates that Joker will kill again. And therein lies the reason for mercy.

  2. Excellent point. It's too easy to think we can anticipate future events.