Sicario, Denis Villeneuve’s latest movie, is a dark drug thriller starring Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. The movie started very well at the American box office in limited release, with more than 400 thousand dollars at the box office on a combination of six screenings.
Sicario means ‘hitman’ in Mexico. This affirmation is displayed to you from the beginning so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
The movie portrays Emily Blunt as Kate Macer, an FBI agent who is enlisted by an elected government task force to join in the escalating war against drugs at the lawless border area between the U.S. and Mexico. Brolin is her ‘cowboy’ superior officer and Del Toro is an enigmatic consultant named Alejandro.
Blunt’s character perfectly portrays the role of a moral compass in a world dominated by men, where she is exposed to violence and corruption on a daily basis. She is forced to question her beliefs and is constantly showcasing the emotional conflicts she has to deal with as she is facing the grimiest world she could possibly imagine. She’s the character through which we feel the movie.
Alejandro is played brilliantly by Del Toro (let’s give him that; he deserves it) is this enigmatic and dark figure. The character has this depth that keeps you curious and itching to know more about him.
The plot is well-paced and the knife-edge tension is sustained throughout the whole movie. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. Even during a small scene where nothing remarkable happens, you’re constantly thinking that something is going to happen.
Jóhann Jóhannsson’s music sets the mood and adds almost an unbearable and sinister weight to the movie. Let’s add that the cinematographer Roger Deakins (who worked with the Coen Brothers, Sam Mendes, and Villeneuve on Prisoners) did an outstanding job. The night scenes were so realistic and the aerial shots of desert landscapes and following the cars in Juarez were amazing.
The atmosphere is very grim and dark from the beginning until the last moments. This is not a happy movie – the darkness seeps into you and even after the movie, I had a feeling of discomfort. I felt like the outside world was too bright and too happy compared to the two hours I experienced.
What is different with Sicario compared to other narcotic-thrillers of the genre, is that it’s a close-up examination of the reality of the drug war and the methods used by US agencies to fight the spread of the phenomenon. The movie also evokes the ethical breaches that are drawn from the doctrine that the end justifies the means.
Let’s note that with an estimated budget of about 30 million, Sicario could have gotten more money if the writer (Taylor Sheridan) had changed the role played by Emily Blunt for a male character. Villeneuve refused stating that topics related to the status of women affected him and that his way of fighting inequality in the industry was to give the best roles to great actresses.
Denis Villeneuve added: “This film is not really about the drug cartels. It is rather interested in the reactions adopted by the U.S. authorities regarding events occurring outside their borders. In the movie, it’s Mexico, but it could just as easily happen elsewhere, in the Middle East, for example. “
This is a movie that I would most definitely recommend and I would be disappointed if the movie is not nominated in the Oscars for directing AND cinematography.
Sicario is now playing in theatres.