Sicario Review

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

Sometimes it takes a film to really open our eyes to the way the world actually is. Saving Private Ryan took us into the fray as troops hit the beaches, and with vast realism, we were given a glimpse into what it meant to be in a war and the atrocities that go with it. Traffic took us into the drug problem that has invaded America, showing how each side works and the effects on the people involved. Denis Villeneuve shows us a new angle of the drug problem south of the American border and how it reaches into the United States, focusing on the drug cartels and the efforts to hinder their expanse in his latest film, Sicario.

Kate Mercer (Emily Blunt) is an FBI agent focusing on kidnappings. Her track record precedes her, and she scores a house of dead bodies. This also sparks the interest of a special operations unit, led by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) and his “bird dog,” Alejandro (Benecio Del Toro). They recruit Kate to join their operation, with the goal of finding the person in charge of these kidnappings, who also happens to have been planting bombs at homes and be involved with drugs. Kate joins but soon finds herself in over her head and plans change at a moment’s notice and the threat of death is ever prevalent. Plus she feels she’s not getting the full details of what is going on as everything appears to be shadier and shadier as the minutes pass. Will Kate be able to find out what is really going on before death finds her or will she become another statistic in the war on drugs?

Sicario is in your face, intense, and violent, yet Villeneuve never celebrates the violence. A shootout midday, in the middle of hundreds of citizens, appears commonplace, almost as if it was “just another day on the job.” The shootout takes place, people die, and everyone goes about their business. This will make the news, right? No, this involves drug cartel business, it’s just another normal story. Villeneuve, along with cinematographer Roger Deakins, has such a way of ratcheting up the suspense and tension of a scene, it’s almost unnerving. Part of you wants to take your eyes off the screen, and the other part wants to see what happens. And this intensity begins with the opening scene of the film and stays there until the final scene, in which we really aren’t quite sure what will go down in a tense moment.

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There are really three main leads, with Blunt receiving the majority of screen time. Blunt has played a wide range of characters in her career, yet none that she had to take to a darker side more than that of Kate. Kate goes from a by the book, uses laws and jurisdiction to fix the world kind of person, to a woman who takes that tumble into Wonderland and has her eyes opened to how the world truly is. It’s a fabulous performance as we, ourselves, take on the role of Kate and learn more about humanity, the war on drugs, cartels, and the extents people will go to obtain their goals. Josh Brolin is in a role he was made for: a laid back guy, in control of the situation with an iron rod for a spine. And Benecio Del Toro is frightening and soothing in his role as Alejandro. A man who is far more than he lets on and, once his motivations are revealed, becomes this tragic figure who we want to root for even though it may veer from our moral compass. I liken his depth of character and brutality to that of Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. Solid performances across the board help make Sicario a huge success.

Two years ago, Villenueve’s Prisoners was shamefully neglected during Oscar season. And while Sicario is similar in tone to the aforementioned film, it is a completely different movie and one that is more relatable to a majority of the population. There’s also the fact that this film is based on true events, and we can absolutely see that. The story is deep, with multiple layers like an onion, and the characters have depth to spare, particularly Kate and Alejandro. Sicario is more than deserving of multiple Oscar nominations, and should get them when the season approaches. The film is unforgettable and the images will stay with you far after the credits role. Easily one of the best films of the year and one you should get to now!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


    One Comment

  1. MCOctober 5th, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    I watched this movie last night; I will admit I was expecting more violence as in reality I think it is worse than what they show. I do agree with the reviews it is an intense movie, yet it shows the cruel reality for a lot of people. I think the saddest part is that we become numb to this. Now at days I think it seems normal (as bad as it sounds) to hear someone got kidnapped or killed. I am from Mexico but I have been living in the States for a long time; I still have family living there and this is their daily bread and they just learn to live with this situation. I will tell you the truth I was a little annoyed by “Kate’s” role (probably because she was naïve to these situations), but you brought up a good point she shows the other side where we all live in our little perfect world and we don’t know what is going outside of our bubbles.

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