Disclaimer: This post was originally written for No Perfect Movie, but since the site has gone down, I’ve decided to transfer all my work onto this blog.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Daniel Kaluuya
Release Date: 2nd October, 2015 (US) | 9th October, 2015 (UK)
“Nothing will make sense to your American ears. But in the end… you will understand.”
Sicario is the latest thriller from Denis Villeneuve (the acclaimed French-Canadian filmmaker who helmed both Prisoners and Enemy). The film delves into the dark, immoral and often brutally violent side of the ongoing war against drugs. Emily Blunt stars as Kate Macer, an idealistic FBI agent enlisted to become a part of a shady government task force operating in and around the border area between the US and Mexico.
Sicario is a slow burn thriller. The script, written by Sons Of Anarchy star Taylor Sheridan, is made up of a few pulsating action set pieces, meshed together by a gradual build up of tension and anxiety. It may appear to lose momentum at times, but in reality it’s simply building suspense in the most spine-chilling way possible. The audience is left uncomfortably perched on their edge of their seats – fearful of what lies around the corner.
And yet, despite the underlying sense of dread that accompanies the movie, it’s a profoundly beautiful experience. Above all else, Sicario is an exercise in visual filmmaking – showcasing director of photography Roger Deakins‘ overwhelming creative talent. Each shot is a painting, meticulously crafted and perfectly executed. Naturally, the pace is quite pedestrian, but it’s difficult to notice time fly by when you’re so captivated by it’s artistry.
“You saw things you shouldn’t have seen.”
It probably goes without saying at this point in her career, but Blunt is outstanding as the audience surrogate, Kate – offering an innocent and relatable perspective on the bleak world of politics and shady agendas. She’s easily one of the top five actresses on the planet right now. Elsewhere, Josh Brolin is quietly brilliant as her onscreen foil, Matt Graver. Devilishly entertaining and playfully sinister, this is some of his best work to date.
Victor Garber and Jon Bernthal make the best of limited supporting roles, while young British talent Daniel Kaluuya demonstrates some excellent chemistry with Blunt. Avengers star Maximiliano Hernández also makes a sterling effort to deliver a sense of relevance to a questionable B-plot. However, this was always going to be Benicio del Toro‘s film. Dark, brooding and ruthlessly unforgiving, he’s simply phenomenal here.
Direction & Tone
Weaving underlying themes of betrayal and conspiracy with moments of shocking violence and brutality, Villeneuve demonstrates why he’s easily one of the best directors working today. A master of suspense with an eye for style, he deserves just as many plaudits as Deakins for crafting this thriller with such visual flair. Special mention must go to composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, whose relentless score will surely send chills down your spine.
- Between this and Everest, Josh Brolin’s had a pretty fantastic September. I can’t wait to see what he does with Thanos in Infinity War.
- We recently heard rumblings of a sequel in the works. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say it’s possible… but is it really necessary? Personally, I can’t see Denis Villeneuve returning with Blade Runner 2 on the horizon – i.e. I’m not interested.
- In the meantime, it remains to be seen what Lionsgate can do come awards season. Deakins’ name on the ballot should be a given, but sadly Blunt, Villeneuve and even del Toro may have a fight on their hands to receive deserved Oscar recognition.
- Sicario? More like Sickario. Amirite?
- I’m not even sorry.
Sicario seizes the viewer from it’s very first shot and refuses to let go. It’s a tense, murky and hard-hitting crime thriller that also doubles as a magnificent feast for the eyes.