Sicario: Brilliant, Exciting, Terrifying. A Feel Good Movie from Hell.

Sicario - IMDBDirected by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) and written by Taylor Sheridan, Sicario, simply put, is a journey, largely that of Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) who realizes the world is much, much worse than she had ever imagined. While only 121 minutes, this expedition will take our characters and each of us a far greater personal distance than we might ever want to go.

Premise: An FBI agent unwittingly crosses lines she never dreamed while aiding in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico. Result: Brilliant and thrilling thought piece from the moment it begins to long after it ends.

It is no secret that the drug war, the endless drug war, is both cruel and unrelenting. Agent Macer confronts these realities daily in her Arizona universe. She has a keen sense of Justice, Right and Wrong and this determination keeps her motivated in the endless battles ahead. But when her boss, Dave Jennings (Victor Garber) introduces her to an opportunity to go deeper past the frontlines than ever before, she has no idea what is truly coming.

Her new squad -led by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and supported by a dozen of soldiers, mercenaries and shadow agents like “Alejandro” (Benicio Del Toro)- is a complete befuddling mystery that places her in danger from moment one. She, aided occasionally by her wayward partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya), is painfully out of her element.

What ensues is a thrilling, often terrifying descent into madness. Macer looks behind the curtain only to realize that the world is nothing like she imagined it, where her daily efforts to bring justice and peace may be nothing more than futile attempts, like swatting at a tornado with cat paws.

Sicario - elcineenlasombraWe watch as Macer struggles with the reality of this dark side, as she whines and reproaches their efforts, believing in rules that no longer apply, in morals and ethics that only weaken her in the face of a monstrous enemy more brutal than human. And so this film not only reveals who Macer is, behind a well-trained exterior, but who we are. We as citizens, as people, as observers, we can choose to side with the reality with which she is confronted or the ideal world she clings too.

And so the film is utterly transformational. On the one hand, there are constant thrills and terrors awaiting audiences that would have made this film exciting on its own. But its complex moral questions and dilemmas are artfully brushed across a canvas of misery and exhilaration.

The acting in the film is virtually perfect all around. Brolin, Garber and Kaluuya are all wonderful, if essentially background in this film. The real stars are Blunt and del Toro, who astoundingly represent opposite sides of a very distinct spectrum. The range that Blunt displays is astonishing in this role; she doesn’t miss a beat and her anguish, her suffering is evident in every nuanced shriek, chirp or expression. We feel with her. Or hate her.

Del Toro, on the other hand, gives us nothing and everything at the same moment. He is a magician, controlling his scenes with a minimalism that is arresting. He delivers entire sequences with hardly any words at all, yet we know everything; we are mesmerized and terrified. As his character reveals itself in greater depth, we both hate and sympathize with him; in some cases may even side with him. His performance is the best he has delivered in countless years.

Ultimately, Sicario is a shocking pleasure. While a kick to the gut from the very first moment, while relishing in audience helplessness throughout, it is far smarter and more thrilling than expected. There will not be a dull moment watching this film; nor the nightmares that come from its haunting power.

Rating: 9 –  An expensive red wine and juicy steak that someone else is paying for and where you don’t have to put out

One Response to “Sicario: Brilliant, Exciting, Terrifying. A Feel Good Movie from Hell.”

  1. Excellent review of an excellent film.

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