SICARIO is Dark, Bleak and Fantastic – Movie Review
Early on in Denis Villeneuve‘s excellent Sicario, a mysterious operative played by Benicio del Toro tells Emily Blunt‘s wide-eyed FBI agent that everything she’s about to see won’t make any sense to her American ears. It would only be in the end would she understand.
Sicario is a trip through the looking glass into a living Hell that is slowly making its way into the United States. As the Mexican drug cartels become more powerful, their operations expand across the border, buying up suburban homes for use as tombs and traps for the authorities.
Offered a chance to really make an impact on the drug war by a shady Josh Brolin, who may or may not be CIA, Blunt’s Kate jumps at the chance to do some good. The plan is to disrupt a cartel’s actions to the point their contact in America is called back to Juarez, Mexico, to meet with the drug lord in charge. Using a drone, they’ll follow the contact so they can find out where the drug lord resides, then take him down. But that’s not really what Sicario is about.
Sicario sort of plays out like a brooding, depressed cousin to the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men. Both feature ruthless assassins intruding on a world that isn’t prepared for that level of evil. When Sicario first travels into Juarez, the sight of four dead bodies hanging naked from an overpass doesn’t create the slightest uproar in anyone except for Blunt’s character. The more time Blunt spends with Brolin and del Toro’s characters, the more her eyes are opened to the fact that not only has the Juarez drug trade infiltrated everything, south and north of the border, but the only way to even try to stop them is to beat them at their own sadistic, brutal game.
For an actress who got her start in light, fluffy comedies like The Devil Wears Prada and Sunshine Cleaning, Blunt has proven over the last few years with Looper and Edge of Tomorrow that she can be quite the bad ass. She’s taken that to a whole new level in Sicario, adding a vulnerability that puts her work here up there with some of the best heroines in movies.
Working with the fantastic (and still Oscar-less) cinematographer Roger Deakins, director Denis Villeneuve treads into even darker territory than he did on Prisoners, building a world so bleak, brutal and hopeless that nobody comes out unscathed, and nothing is truly understood until the end.