Sicario tells the story of Kate Macer, played by Emily Blunt, an FBI agent who is brought into an investigation to find the head of the Cartel. The first act throws the audience into the action straight away, as the opening scene is a raid of a house owned by a member of the Cartel.
What Macer finds, leads to her joining the team led by Matt Graver, played by Josh Brolin, who leads the investigation into finding Manuel Diaz, head of the Cartel. Also part of the team is the mysterious Alejandro Gillick, played Benicio del Toro, who instantly Macer distrusts.
Blunt is excellent as the films straight shooting main character. This is easily some of the best acting Blunt has ever done, presenting a character that is both likable yet flawed. Between her work here and last years Edge Of Tomorrow, Blunt has cemented herself as an action star, in a genre typically dominated by men.
One of the most intense sequences in the entire film takes place in the first act, as the team cross the border back into America and are caught in traffic, and are suspiciously looking over their shoulder waiting for the cartel to attack. Blunt is at her best here, she seems both experienced and inexperienced in these scenes, as her paranoia of who to trust begins to sink in.
But as good as Blunt is here, this is Del Toro’s movie. His performance is mesmerizing as a tortured individual hell bent on tracking down Diaz. His character has very few lines in the film, yet he steals every scene he is in with his threatening stares and determination in his eyes. It is a subtle yet enthralling performance ,that deserves to be recognized during award season next year.
One of his strongest scenes takes place during an interrogation of a member of the Cartel. This was a peak that we wouldn’t see properly until the film’s climax of the monster within Gillick. Brolin is also solid as the head of the investigation team, in many ways he has Gillick on a leash through the first two acts of this film, and plays this role brilliantly.
The strengths of Sicario is in its execution, the cinematography and direction are fantastic and the film seems to get better and more intriguing as it goes on. Cinematographer Roger Deakins once again brings a film to life with beautiful wide shots of this dark, grimy world.
Director Denis Villieneuve, following his previous films Prisoners and Enemy, once again delivers a film of the year contender. The performances are consistent through out, which is both a testament to the actors and the strength of the director.
There aren’t many negative qualities to this film, but it is not perfect. The 2nd act certainly slows down the pace considerably. There were a few look at the watch moments as Blunts Character is speaking to her bosses, trying to take control of the investigation.
Also Brolin, although he is great in what little he has to do, feels underused at times and forgettable when in scenes with Blunt and del Toro. He really doesn’t play a major part in the overall plot other then being the leader of this team, it very much feels like Blunts and Del Toro’s movie.
But overall Sicario is a must watch, one of the best films of the year and surely a strong contender in multiple categories come award season. I would be surprised if Del Toro and Deakin at least don’t get Academy Award nominations for acting and cinematography respectfully.
By Simon Hanson