Sicario is top-notch drug crime thriller
A spell-bounding crime thriller, you don’t simply watch Sicario, you experience 2015’s most intense, sophisticated adrenaline rush that doesn’t let up until the end credits.
FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt, Into the Woods) is recruited by government official Matt (Josh Brolin, Guardians of the Galaxy) to join a special task force to bring down merciless drug lord Manuel Diaz (Bernardo Saracino).
Also joining the operation is the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro, Guardians of the Galaxy), a ‘consultant’ with a personal stake in finding Diaz.
As the manhunt progresses including a dramatic shootout at the U.S./Mexico border, Kate questions if the unit is becoming as morally compromised as the monster they’re trying to take down. Worried Kate may be getting in too deep, her partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya, Kick-Ass 2 acquitting himself well working alongside some major heavy hitters) adds himself to the mission.
Blunt, is an exceptional actresses, and she’s once again terrific with this fascinatingly complex role as the conflicted character who sees the atrocities committed, but doesn’t want to go down the same dark road to end them.
Brolin is in his element as the swagger-filled, unflappable mission leader, but the true star of the film is Del Toro who’s mesmerizing in a role that commands your attention. He’s Sicario’s dominant presence and one that makes viewers unsure Alejandro’s true purpose and if he can be fully trusted. Del Toro and one that should net him his third Oscar nomination.
Director Denis Villeneuve establishes a fully lived-in world, one where the characters credibly feel like they’ve existed and done this dance long before the camera started rolling.
There’s a certain authenticity Villeneuve brings to this glimpse at the drug war culture that makes it feel so real. We’re not detached, un-invested spectators, but the visceral way Villeneuve presents the action it seems like we’re right in the car during a tense shootout at the U.S./Mexico border instead of a plush, comfortable movie seat.
This is a war that didn’t start once the cameras began rolling and it won’t end after the final credits. Villeneuve still seems overly fascinated with the pain and horror men can inflict on one another to a point that the dismemberment, torture and vile acts feel excessive long after he’s made his point.
Similar to his previous work in Prisoners, Villeneuve wants to make the viewer consider how they would respond and consider who has the ‘right’ philosophy. Is it Kate with her firm adherence to law and order or does Matt and Alejandro’s belief that the ends justify the means? There’s no right or wrong answer and that conflict is a driving force in the film.
Sons of Anarchy star Taylor Sheridan makes a solid screenwriting debut with engaging character interplay and firmly defined characters. Some of the film’s best moments are simple conversations in a room whether it be two partners playfully bickering or a terse standoff between characters refusing to back down. Sheridan pens some killer lines such as Alejandro’s explanation of the importance of catching Diaz — ‘To find him would be like finding a vaccine.’
Sheridan’s script occasionally gets a bit clunky and technical when the characters are breaking down mission operations as if he’s seeking extra credibility for having the lingo down making the plot more complicated than necessary.
Roger Deakins’ (Skyfall) cinematography is absolutely stunning. Each scene tops the next from a haunting rooftop view of a village being illuminated by gunfire and explosions to a mesmerizing mission in the waning moments of sunlight leading to a sequence shot almost entirely from a night vision perspective.
Deakins has a three-year streak of being nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar (most recently for Unbroken) and while a fourth consecutive nomination seems a lock, Sicario may finally be the film that gets him that long-deserved Oscar after 11 nominations.
With its outstanding cast, direction and spectacular cinematography, Sicario is a riveting and highly engaging experience. Your biggest crime would be missing out on one of the best crime thrillers in the last 20 years.