An FBI agent finds herself part of a morally ambiguous anti-drug task force in Sicario. Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is an agent of the FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Team, who uncovers dozens of bodies in the walls of a house in Arizona. With this being the result of Mexican cartel activity, Kate volunteers to Department of Defense adviser Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to join a task force, who includes Matt’s partner Alejandro (Benicio del Toro), to help bring down the leaders of the cartels. However, Kate is shocked by the questionable methods that the team will use to meet their goals.
Acclaimed Quebecois filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) continues his move into Hollywood filmmaking with the war on drugs thriller Sicario. This is a film that is undoubtedly going to result in comparisons with Steven Soderbergh’s similarly-themed 2000 film Traffic, if only for the fact that both films feature Benicio del Toro in a central role.
While the world of Sicario is somewhat of a heightened reality from the real war on drugs, it does result in many questions to be asked about what is truly the best course of action against Mexican drug cartels? Should they be taken down by a ethical and legal route or are more extreme actions needed? The answer the Sicario suggests is a bit of an icky one and representative of the very ugly world that we live in.
In some ways, it can be argued that del Toro’s character of Alejandro is the true focus of this film’s story, with Emily Blunt’s character of Kate Macer being somewhat of an outside observer of this operation of a questionable legality, which causes her to have some serious objections. In the middle of all of this is Josh Brolin’s Matt Graver, who is the one that brought the two together, while at the same time remaining somewhat of an unsympathetic jerk.
Sicario has some quite tense moments and it is sometimes hard to tell who are the real heroes and victims of this story. A key scene of tension in the film, involves traversing through underground tunnels, which is shot primarily through infrared photography. Altogether, Sicario features some quite impressive cinematography by Roger Deakins, which includes aerial photography over the US/Mexico border.
Altogether, Sicario is a solid thriller, which continues Denis Villeneuve’s move into blockbuster filmmaking, which will include an upcoming Blade Runner sequel.