REVIEW: Sicario

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Review by Dustin Heller

Sicario is the latest film from director Denis Villeneuve which deals with America’s war on drugs with the Mexican drug cartel.  Villeneuve is a bit of an auteur, but had some mainstream success with 2013’s Prisoners with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal.  He is definitely a director that I’d recommend seeking out his other works.  Sicario was selected as part of the main competition for the Palm d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival which is quite an honor all in itself.  The film stars Emily BluntBenicio del Toro, and Josh Brolin.

After raiding a Mexican drug house and surviving an explosion in Arizona, FBI agent Kate Macer (Blunt) agrees to go on special assignment to aid in a joint task force to bring down the head of the drug cartel in Juarez, Mexico.  The team that she is assigned to is led by the carefree Matt Graver (Brolin) and the mysterious Alejandro Gillick (del Toro).  Very little is told to Macer about her assignment other than that she just needs to pay attention and learn.

Expecting to take a trip to El Paso, Texas, she finds herself being driven through the streets of Juarez in an attempt to extract a high-profile member of the cartel.  One thing leads to another and the lines blur as to who she can trust and what exactly she is doing on this mission.  It quickly becomes a game of life and death and she begins to question everything about what she had originally believed to be the truth.

Not only is Sicario one of the most intense movies of the year, it is also the current front-runner for my favorite film of the year.  The film really has everything going for it; the cinematography is beautiful, they’re working from a great script, the score masterfully intensifies the heart-pounding action, and perhaps most of all, the actors all deliver outstanding performances.  I feel that Denis Villeneuve is one of the best filmmakers on the scene today and he seems to be getting better with each film.

Sicario is a very gritty film and it has a certain air of creepiness about it that Villeneuve seems to really have a knack for capturing.   The film jumps from one high-intensity scene to the next, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. Emily Blunt has solidified herself as a true action star with this film as well as last year’s Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise.  As great as she is, though, Benicio del Toro owns this film and he steals every scene that he is in.  He’s such a great actor and I’m not sure I’ve seen him any better than he is in this role.

I do want to mention and give fair warning that there is a scene in the film that is very difficult to watch and will not sit well with a lot of people.  I won’t say any more than that, but this isn’t a film for children.  That said, Sicario is one of the best films of the year thus far and well worth the trip to the theater.

Grade:  A

Sicario opens in theaters on Friday, October 2