With immense heat and intensity, Sicario explores the American war on drugs. The crime triller, directed by Dennis Villeneuve, is chock full of brutal violence and complex characters deceiving each other with misinformation and vagueness. Throw this beautiful mix is messiness in together, and you get the brilliant film that is Sicario.
Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is a hostage recovery team leader working for the FBI, she is hard working and intense with a fierce drive to find the truth. When she and her team are sent to recover hostages and find dozens of corpses hidden in the walls, Kate is desperate to get to the truth. In an attempt to find answers, Kate agree to join a team lead by Matt Garver (Josh Brolin), an undercover officer for the CIA working with a Delta Force team in an operation to capture high level members of a Mexican cartel. Kate is immediately suspicious of everyone, trying to discern exactly why she is on the mission and what everyone’s role is. Especially Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro), who deflects her questions and whose silence gives her no comfort.
Sicario is this mess of brutal violence and complex characters, thrown in together and spurt out the other end. The audience knows just about as much as Kate, being kept in the dark right up until the final moments. That kind of suspense keep the cogs turning and keeps our suspicion of everyone in play. We are as desperate for some shred of truth, just like Kate. The kind of emotional games characters in Sicario play with you makes you just as angry and vulnerable as her too. In fact, we are Kate, there is no other way to say it. Even in the brief moments we are let behind the curtain, we don’t learn enough to give us the upper hand.
Emily Blunt is, as always, phenomenal. Watching Kate calm her nerves after washing the blood and dust of her colleagues off her body, or the nerve she shows when under fire. Blunt is showing emotions while stifling the intensity of feelings, ensuring Kate is taken seriously in the male dominated team. Benicio del Toro is as creepy as you get as Gillick. He is calm, collected, and absolutely brutal. Del Toro makes it impossible to read Gillick’s character; keeping us in the dark about his motivations and giving away nothing.
The cinematography in Sicario is brilliant on its own; the space created by shots is dwarfing to the characters and helps show the kind of vastness to the problem. It’s almost as though having the full scope of the picture isn’t giving away any answers or letting us see the truth. We just see too much at once, making it difficult to hone in on the real issue. Sicario explores this truth through going after the head of a cartel rather than the middle men, attempting to secure the end of the whole cartel rather than one small element.
Sicario is captivating in its portrayal of the American war on drugs. A flurry of excitement, intensity and thrill, the film keeps us in the dark, fighting to find the answers. Even in the slower, less action packed moments, the intensity builds and we are left wondering when the pin will drop and everything will fall to pieces. Sicario is a mess of vendettas and the brilliant story of a fight to win a never-ending battle.