Friday Night Gunfights: the Sicario Bridge
This evening, boys and girls, we’ll be looking at the movie Sicario. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a gritty story that chronicles some of the conflict on the southwest border. It also takes a surprisingly realistic look at some of the hardships faced by law enforcement trying to combat the impact on cartel activity on American cities. It’s an excellent (albeit fictional) examination of the complicated issues that surround trans-national crime between two countries with a porous border. It’s also not for the faint of stomach.
The scene in question involves a convoy of US Law Enforcement (and “other”) personnel extraditing a high-ranking cartel member from Juarez back to El Paso. The movement is done via ground convoy, which is a risky move for exactly the reasons that unfold in the clip. Border crossings are natural choke points and create the potential for exactly what you see here — among other troubles of course.
0:56 – Windows down for unobstructed lines of fire and maybe better audio awareness
1:45 – Unlock the doors to prevent yourself from getting hung up during a bail-out
2:36 – Overhead shot of the bailout looks smooth, except that everyone immediately went to the driver’s side and closed with the threat. With high value cargo still on board, it might have been smarter to keep a few shooters in static perimeter around the convoy, in case there are other threat vehicles that haven’t been spotted yet.
3:43 – Somebody DID stay with the prisoner, which is better than leaving him strapped in alone.
3:57 – Having tail gunners or “trunk monkeys” with muzzles out of your rearmost vehicle to cover movement off the X.
Inclusion of less-than-sexy planning details like integration of air support and clarifying the ROE. There was excellent communication among the team, both between passengers in a vehicle, and between vehicles in the convoy. Constant cross-talk and “echoing” of called threats decreases reaction time and increases everyone’s situational awareness. Communication was also very realistic in how low-key it was. Lots of movies love to ramp up the drama by having everyone yell and whip their heads around like its total chaos. What you see here is far more true-to-life, at least in my experience, in its level of cool-headedness.
Soft-skinned vehicles for an HVT move? Probably not the wisest move unless it’s a situation where you’re going low profile, what Commonwealth shooters call “in mufti.” Up-armored Suburbans may have decreased the likelihood of having to “break seal” and trade bullets in broad daylight. Ideally, you’d want to try and coordinate with CBP and have them shut down one or two lanes of traffic that morning. Convoy rolls up, the drivers flash creds, CBP moves a couple cones and our good guys fly through the choke point at full speed via empty lanes. A direct air move would have been even better. Either way, sometimes speed is its own security.
Grunts: in mufti.
Sometimes there’s no way to avoid choke points on the road. Traffic jams, one-way streets, busy stop-lights. Remember contextual relevance. Learn the phrase “what right looks like” and keep it in mind while on your route. Are 4 dudes with neck tats in a slammed coupe normal in your neighborhood? Is that pan-handler at that one stoplight there all the time, or did he just show up a few days ago? Does he look at you every time you stop at that light? Be aware of your surroundings and have a plan to get out.
The best fight in the world is the one you just avoided.
For the Purists — ZEROING IT IN
Overall, the fighting in this movie was far more realistic than the usual Hollywood nonsense. There are a number of issues, of course. Anyone can pick a scene apart with the luxury of pause, but we think they did a pretty good job with it. Some things our crew noticed:
• Did Benicio del Toro flag Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) at the beginning as he rotated around (and would he care)?
• Is that a bolt locked to the rear in the front passenger seat before they bail out of the vic?
• Why didn’t they smoke home-diggety-cartel-thug with the pistol and the constipated expression (from the red car) sooner?
• Is she pointing a handgun at the team’s back even though she can’t get in the fight?
• Why aren’t at least some of the nearby civilians jumping out of their cars and hauling ass?
• So…they get in a big gunfight and just roll out? If they’re in Mexico like that legally, would they actually boogie on across the border?
• Why did Alejandro (Benecio del Toro) use a 4th Gen Glock 17 in the warehouse, then switch to a suppressed H&K Mk 23 during the climax?
• How come Alejandro’s MP5A3 morphs into an MP5SD3?
• Why does Matt (Josh Brolin) get to use a Daniel Defense DDM4 with an EOTech when Kate has to use an M4A1? That’s some bullshit.
• Did the SWAT sniper on overwatch during the opening scene have a PROOF barrel in his Remington 700 PSS? If not, why not? And just why was he wearing all black, anyway?
What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section. TTPs, equipment, whatever. We’re geardos and gunnerds to the Nth degree. We could talk about this all day.
If you wanna see some more, check out the work on of our guys is doing over at the Internet Movie Firearms Database.
[Join us Friday evening every Friday of the first full week of the month (there’s gotta be a better way to say that) for another installment of Friday Night Gunfights. Mad Duo]
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About the Author:
About the Author: Tom Marshall is an interesting miscegenation of background experiences. He’s a former active duty US Army officer, but before that was a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY. Before accepting his commission as a 2LT, Midshipman Marshall spent a year travelling the world on a variety of merchant shipping vessels, including several months attached to Military Sealift Command. After returning from sea, he spent a summer working at the HQ training facility for Blackwater USA.
Tom spent four years in the Cavalry with a Stryker Brigade, including a one-year tour to Iraq with 4th BCT, 2nd Infantry (“Raiders”). Among other assignments he worked S-3 before taking over a Recce Platoon. He earned the rank of Captain and spent his final year in a HQ Company XO billet. After departing the military he spent about a year and a half working security at a federally-contracted Corrections facility before going back overseas in a PMC job working security and force protection for government personnel working in high threat environments around the world. Tom has written for Guns & Ammo, World of Firepower, SWAT Magazine, Black Sheep Warrior, RECOIL Magazine, and Emerge Social, a PR firm specializing in digital brand management for firearms-industry clients. Despite being an officer we actually trust him (mostly) with a compass. Tom Marshall may or may not have been the inspiration for the best selling issue of Urecco. You can follow him on Facebook at /TMAuthor/ or on Instagram, @tom.marshall.author.