Emily Blunt outshines the men in the quiet, twisty Sicario

This review of Sicario was written for Reel Girl by Christine Mathias.

Emily Blunt is now known as one of the actresses who can “do action” — using guns, getting physical, and, in most cases, be the only woman amongst a cadre of men in films that like to go boom.


She was the star of “Edge of Tomorrow” despite Tom Cruise’s presence (see it, by the way, it’s fantastic.) But in spite of the fact that a zillion actresses other than Blunt, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, and Angelina Jolie could definitely carry an action movie or thriller, studios have yet to catch up. Blunt herself told a story on Stephen Colbert recently that the producers of “Sicario” offered to double the budget if her character, FBI Agent Kate Macer, was rewritten as a man. Obviously the filmmakers declined, which contributed to my decision to plunk down some cash for it. If they fought so hard for Macer to be a woman, it must have feminist undertones, yes? She must stand out in some way as the heroic badass? Not really in the way I was expecting, but that’s OK.

The movie is very, very good — an examination of drug cartels, the law enforcement on both sides of the border that gets wrapped up in the international narcotics trade, and the price paid by all involved when money and politics clashes with horrific violence. A scene in which illegal immigrants snatched up by police or border patrol await their chartered-bus rides back to Mexico puts a pretty grave face on the immigration issue that is currently fodder for Presidential candidates. It’s relevant, gripping stuff. The tension comes from the movie’s silences — it’s spare, from front to back. Long moments of quiet, wide shots of Juarez, Mexico and the stretches of land between “us” and “them.” People think in this movie, and the director lets you see it. You see ideas dawn on people’s faces, you see characters deciding what to lie about and what to ‘fess up to, and it makes for a tense, gently twisty film. Kate Macer is FBI called to join a task force of sorts, but we don’t understand why, exactly, until it’s clear she’s the audience cypher with a bit more gun-handling skill. We are her— throughout the movie you can see her considering every angle, trying to figure out everyone’s motivations, as we are.

So ostensibly she’s the center of the movie, the eyes through which we see, the person we relate to the most, and she’s given much more to do than almost anyone. Seriously, not a lot of dialogue going on. Blunt plays Macer quietly, and it challenged my expectations of what a “strong” woman’s role can be — as in, it can still be strong if the character doesn’t always have the upper hand, or if she’s shown portraying vulnerability, or if she’s kind of an introvert. The important thing, to me, was that the other characters, the male characters, treated her like an equal. No overt sexism, no mollycoddling, Macer is respected for her hard work and is, in fact, chosen for her tactical experience. But the movie pulls a big bait-and-switch that I won’t give away— suffice to say that, in the end, it isn’t Kate Macer’s story. Which is too bad.

Christine Mathias rates “Sicario” HH/ S

Reel Girl ratings  system:  movies can get 1 to 3 H’s for “Heroine” and 1 – 3 S’s for gender stereotyping. H’s are good, S’s are bad.


Christine Mathias is a broadcaster, producer, writer, and Feminist Malcontent who has decided to make life as uncomfortable as possible for Supporters of the Patriarchy. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @NerdAlert19

Wonder Woman Went to Washington and All I Got Was This Photo Essay

On Facebook, I saw photos of Wonder Woman traveling all over Washington D.C. Turns out, she was hanging with my former colleague Christine Mathias. (We used to produce talk radio shows for KGO Radio in San Francisco.) Lucky for us, Christine agreed to share her adventures with Wonder Woman on Reel Girl. Check out this photo essay.

Some people celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary with an epic excursion to Paris. Some people relax, beachside, with something full of rum and bad ideas. Some people have reproduced by their tenth year of marriage, so they’re lucky if they can ditch the tiny human to take a weekend in Mendocino. We (the incredibly game Husband and I) didn’t do any of those things. We took Wonder Woman to a rainy, thunderstormy Washington DC instead. She’s been protecting us and fighting for our rights since the ’40’s, so really it was the least I could do. As an American woman I have taken her sacrifice to heart and try to live my life in pursuit of justice and equality and WHERE DO I FIND MY OWN LASSO OF TRUTH?

Washington Monument

“Did you know, Christine, the Washington Monument is the tallest obelisk in the world?”
“No I didn’t, Wonder Woman! Thanks for layin’ down some truth!”
“Also — totally a penis.”

Capitol Hill is a ghost town on Fridays — this is when Wondy turned to me and was like “Don’t these people ever work? No wonder they can’t protect women’s reproductive rights or come up with a solid plan for universal pre-K.” That’s her eye-rolling face.

We fought off the other tourists to get this shot but Wonder Woman was pretty insistent. “Um, Christine, not only is Lincoln a pretty big deal, but did you know he met Sojourner Truth???”

U Street Metro
One day we took the Metro past Howard University to historic U Street. I mean, it used to be called Black Broadway! Duke Ellington’s house is there! “Christine — Mary Ann Shadd Cary’s house is there.”
“Dude. She was an abolitionist, and one of the first black female journalists AND lawyers in the country. In like the 1880’s. Kind of a big deal.”
“Sorry Wonder Woman.” This is not the first time I disappoint her on this trip.

Bens Chili Bowl
We ate A LOT. Wonder Woman was game to be a vegetarian for a week, so this veggie chili-dog from Ben’s Chili Bowl was a big hit. Except….
“Too bad about the Bill Cosby portrait on the side of the building. Since he’s a rapist.” Word.

“AMELIA!!!!!!” We totally fangirled BIG TIME at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Amelia Earhart is such an inspiration to me, to Wondy, to every little girl who ever liked science…. “Christine, take the picture, I want to go check out the Tuskegee exhibit.”

“It’s no Justice LEAGUE, of course….”
“Very funny Wonder Woman.”
“No seriously, Loretta Lynch’s stalled confirmation was an embarrassment driven by racism and misogyny and HELL YEA she’s the boss now!”
“OK that’s better.”

National Archive
“So…..every female statue in this town has a) pointy nipples b) children all over it. CAN I GET A WARRIOR?” I agree, WW, it would be nice to see a fuller representation of the roles women fulfill in our society. “SERIOUSLY JUST ONE SWORD.”

Supreme Court
At the Supreme Court.
“Is she here? Is she working today? Are any of them working? Can we meet them? Did you bring my Notorious RBG shirt?”
“Sorry, Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn’t here. No Sotomayor or Kagan either. And I didn’t bring your shirt because it’s my shirt, Wonder Woman.”

Sandra Day bust
We got to see Sandra Day O’Connor’s chair and portrait, and Wonder Woman was glad to get at least this photo-op (if RBG was unavailable.)
“As I understand it, she is the best idea Ronal Reagan ever had?”
That is correct.

Sarah Edmonds
We visited the International Spy Museum and got acquainted with lady-spies like this Civil War-era cross-dressing Union operative Sarah Emma Edmonds. “She was so much more than a spy! She enlisted for three years, broke limbs, got malaria, was a stretcher-bearer on the front lines, she even eventually got a military pension and burial! OMG I DIE.”

“Hey you. It’s been a while.” Wonder Woman and FDR go waaaaay back, like WWII way-back. She and Eleanor were “like this,” and Wondy was a big fan of FDR’s Labor Secretary, Frances Perkins. She was the first female Cabinet member, and can be credited with the implementation of social security, unemployment insurance, and a federal minimum wage. “You know, the small stuff.” Wonder Woman + sarcasm = hilarious.

The mosaic of Minerva in the Library of Congress was….controversial.
“That’s Athena.”
“Wonder Woman it’s Minerva.”
“Dude, I’m Greek, that’s Athena.”
“They’re the same.”

Joint Custody
Wonder Woman loves vinyl (“it’s interacting with music, Christine”) so we took her to some great shops around town. She even made a friend at the awesome Joint Custody on U Street.
“Your hair is fab.”
“Thanks girl, nice lasso.”

And then we were done! It was a wonderful trip, incredibly educational and inspiring and full of great experiences. Got some pie and coffee for the ride home, and…
“Christine. I told you to get your own piece. Chocolate Pecan is my fave.”

Christine Mathias is a broadcaster, producer, writer, and Feminist Malcontent who has decided to make life as uncomfortable as possible for Supporters of the Patriarchy. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @NerdAlert19