Sicario (opening today) is ballsy and brilliant, timely and topical. The word “sicario” is Spanish for a hired hitman or assassin and it is the appropriate title for this story, a film that takes a raw, unfiltered look at the escalating drug war raging between the U.S. and Mexico border. It is easily one of the best films of 2015.
Emily Blunt is Kate Macer, a straight-laced FBI agent in charge of a kidnapping rescue division operating in Chandler, Arizona. After getting a glimpse at the brutal and dangerous world in which she lives in, she is hand-picked – for reasons unknown to her and to the audience – to join a different unit that is looking to bring down a major Mexican drug lord. This new force is led by the cocky, breezy Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), who is also closely working with a mysterious Mexican agent, known as Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro).
What is amazing about Sicario is that it does not play by any pre-existing rules of cinema. Director Denise Villeneuve has made a career of working outside the lines and seems to be attracted to chaos: His last film, Enemy, opened with the line “Chaos is order as yet undeciphered.” He does not believe in spoon-feeding the audience, which may be a bit frustrating for some movie-goers who are used to waiting on a spoon.
Kate Macer is dropped into this world and for a great deal of the film, she has no idea what is going on around her: She is deciphering the chaos. Unlike pretty much every other movie out there, we don’t understand what is happening until late in the film…and even then, we are left to piece together certain elements on our own. The result is a film that feels real and authentic, because life itself does not come with a voice-over, or any explanations as to why things are going down the way that they are. It’s amazing how little credit we give ourselves, and its quite refreshing to know that our brains actually work while inside a movie theater.
Emily Blunt does a fine job, but she is a leaf that has been swept up in a hurricane. There are great acting performances all around her, especially from Macer’s best friend (Daniel Kaluuya), Brolin and Del Toro. Del Toro especially, puts up one of the most memorable performances of the year, one that just may qualify for supporting acting accolades.
Life does not operate like a movie, nor does Sicario. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, sometimes villains don’t get the comeuppances they deserve. Sicario lets us in on many of the shady, underground practices occurring south of the border, and how our country is trying to combat them. But on a larger scale, the film is a stark reminder that the world is not a black and white landscape, that there are no winners and losers especially when it comes to war, and that not all mysteries get solved.
Sicario barrels head-first into the unbridled chaos of the world and never flinches.
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Run Time: 2 hours, 1 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya
Directed by Denise Villeneuve (Enemy, Prisoners, Incendies, Polytechnique, Maelstrom)
Opens locally on Friday, Oct 2, 2015 (check for show times).