“Sicario” was officially released theatrically nationwide starting today by Lionsgate.
A by-the-book FBI agent named Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) impresses her colleagues after stumbling into a drug cartel case involving multiple hostages and 42 dead bodies found within the walls of a domicile in Chandler, Arizona. Kate is soon handpicked to be a part of an elite task force by Matt Graver (Josh Brolin). After losing several people on her team in Arizona, Kate is informed that this would be the way to get back at the men responsible.
With little information to fall back on, Kate is sent in blind to the slums of Juarez and back to the border between the U.S. and Mexico. At the head of the operation is the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio del Toro), who has his own hidden agenda while the team chases an inconspicuous drug lord.
From actor turned writer Taylor Sheridan and the follow up to director Denis Villeneuve’s 2013 films “Prisoners” and “Enemy,” “Sicario” is a crime thriller that keeps its audience in the dark as often as Kate Macer is uninformed and out of her element in the film. You tag along with Kate as she’s taken out into the middle of the desert as Matt and Alejandro break the laws Kate holds so dear in order to crack down on the war on drugs and more specifically target one specific man that has slipped through their fingers for far too long.
Even though he only has a minor role, Jon Bernthal makes quite an impact as Ted. Bernthal has made a career of playing sleazy, backstabbing characters. While he doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary from what you’ve come to expect from the Washington D.C. native, he is arguably at his most intense in “Sicario.” Bernthal’s scene with Emily Blunt is as brutal as the fight scene between Max and Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Benicio del Toro is perhaps the best he’s ever been in this film. Alejandro is so calculated and determined to accomplish the task at hand. He becomes a major player in the finale of the film and del Toro is flawless in his performance. His movements are smooth and without hesitation to a scary extent. The character has this buried layer of darkness that del Toro easily adds so much depth to.
Meanwhile Josh Brolin has the most personality of any character in the film. Matt Graver seems like the type of careless individual who attends meetings in sweatpants and flip flops, but Matt is a lot like Alejandro in the sense that they never deviate from their mission. Brolin is the source for some of the most poignant dialogue in the film.
The crime thriller uses harsh and abrasive imagery in an attempt to let the audience know what Kate is getting herself into. Naked and mutilated corpses hung upside down after a merciless firefight at the border launch Kate into a mission that she feels is way over her head. This team is consistently pushing boundaries to reach their objective and the film reflects that quite successfully.
The Kate Macer character becomes somewhat overbearing the more you’re exposed to her characteristics. Kate follows United States law to a religious extent. She’s somewhat similar to Captain America in that sense and has this demeanor that reminds you of a girl scout; there are rules to follow that everyone has to uphold without question. The truth is Kate is somewhat whiny at times and a little unpleasant because of her precision to detail.
Everyone seems to be arming themselves to the teeth for this great war the film keeps alluding to. While there is a fair share of exchanging bullets and bloodshed, it seems like it’s a bit over-hyped by the film itself. The misleading score is constantly hinting at something big around the next corner, but it rarely actually gets to that point. The film ends up having awkward pacing because of it and possibly makes it feel more sluggish than it really is.
While “Sicario” disguises itself as a war on drugs, underneath the protective armor and the explosive bullets is the moral dilemma and devastation of Kate Macer throughout the film. The acting may be solid, but in reality this is a ho-hum drawn out manhunt with a somewhat satisfying ending that is both abrupt and extremely violent. “Sicario” is a muffled gunshot of a crime thriller that never allows itself to remove the muzzle that keeps its viciousness at bay.