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Review - Sicario

By midlandsmovies, Dec 21 2015 10:02AM

Sicario (2015) Dir. Denis Villeneuve

Emily Blunt (Kate Macer) stars as a virtuous FBI agent taken on board by Josh Brolin’s shady government group to halt the ever encroaching drug cartels that are killing and dealing near the USA-Mexico border. Also along for the ride is Benicio Del Toro (Alejandro Gillick) who does his usual shifty man-in-the-background monosyllabic shtick as an agent who leaps into another gear towards the film’s ending. A tense opening sees Kate and her FBI SWAT colleagues raid a suspected kidnapping hideout but they instead find bodies holed-up in the walls of a suburban house. After an explosion kills a number of team members she is enlisted into Brolin’s team to find the men responsible.

The first (and most impressive) sequence involves the team extraditing one of the crime boss’ top men from Juárez, Mexico. The team pile into a convoy of armed SUVs and rush over the border before apprehending their suspect and urgently return. The director cranks up tension with swift camera work and with few lines of dialogue the shots clearly explain the situation whilst ratcheting up the pressure.

Villeneuve has enlisted the help of 12-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins to supply absolutely gorgeous visuals which are lit to perfection from the tense interiors of corridors and tunnels to the sprawling urban decay of Hispanic streets and gorgeous sunsets and sunrises.

The director twists expectations with seemingly dangerous characters becoming mild mannered whilst others increase the conflict with bouts of explosive emotion. The story spins off into double-crossing territory as Kate (Blunt) attempts to do things by the book against a team looking to cause disruption in the gang’s activities. Uncovering the whereabouts of a smuggling tunnel, the well-armed squad attacks the illicit group and Kate finds that Brolin has been less than honest with the truth about their operations.

A taut thriller with fantastic performances, Sicario also has a tight and efficient script as well as a strong central showing from Blunt whose idealistic rookie antagonises the more experienced group and who comes to some harsh realisations about the machinations of the regime she works for. Rather than providing a solution for drug violence, Sicario attempts to merely contain it within fixed boundaries – both geographical and metaphorical – as the leadership struggle to find long-term answers for an increasingly complex problem.

One of the best dramas of the year, it has echoes of Zero Dark Thirty and Villeneuve shows why he is a first-class choice to helm the future Blade Runner sequel with his use of sleek visuals and impressive cinematography. Coming off the back of this, the dark Prisoners and the ambiguous Enemy, Villeneuve continues his remarkable run with a striking spectacle.

8/10 Midlands Movies Mike

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