Director: Denis Villeneuve
Runtime: 121 minutes
Cast: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, et al…
Plot (taken from IMDb): An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by a government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.
Sicario is violent, aggressive, disturbing and… funny? The film starts with a drugs raid on a house of some notorious dealers – it sets up the scene perfectly. The cinematography puts you right in the thick of the action and tension of the raid, but as are police raids, it is quick, efficient and aggressive. We learn from this raid scene that Sicario doesn’t pull any punches with gore and injury detail so if you don’t like the violence of this opening scene, you’d be glad to know that the rest of the film isn’t quite as gruesome.
Just a word of warning though, there are real images of corpses in Sicario, which I didn’t particularly want to see. Outside of the violence however, Sicario tells a tense story about a US task force trying to take on the ever-escalating war on drugs smuggling and gang-culture in the US-Mexico border. It’s an intelligent film, filled with fine performances, cinematography and editing, but I feel like the writing and direction could have been tighter.
Sicario handles tension well, and this is mainly through the fine performance by Emily Blunt. The camera focusses and lingers on Blunt’s (Kate Macy) reactions to the madness around her – she is almost as unused to the scenario as we are. The horrific situation she finds herself in is aggressive, grim and unflinching, with attacks coming from all angles and at any moment. We are in the film’s tense moments at the same time as Kate, and Villeneuve portrays this well.
However, I think he (and the script) does try to be too clever. Kate herself doesn’t ever really feel fully developed – she knows what she’s going into to some extent, and is willing to do whatever she can. Kate is shown to be in over her head, but it’s never made clear enough what she will and won’t do in the fight against drugs. It’s clear Kate doesn’t like what they’re doing, but it is never explained why she suddenly decides what they’re doing is wrong; it kind of just happens.
I think the script could’ve been better in explaining the situation a bit more, but at the same time, I like that we don’t know the full extent of what we’ve put ourselves in for. It’s a tricky film, but on a base level, it is really rather entertaining. It sounds great, looks great and builds tension wonderfully, and despite its unflinching stance on the violence that ensues, it gives us enough time to catch our breath, even throwing a few jokes in there from the brilliant Josh Brolin.
Sicario is tense, thrilling and violent. Its unflinching attitude to violence is quite refreshing, and the acting is largely very good. Villeneuve has once again shown he is a great director of tension, but he has also once again shown that he likes to throw in unnecessary complications.