If you are a massive action crime-thriller fan like me, then you have to go and see Sicario this week! This film was meticulously directed by French-Canadian Denis Villeneuve, who also directed the 2013 thriller Prisoners, while the screenplay was crafted by up-and-comer Taylor Sheridan. This action-packed film follows Emily Blunt in the role of idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer, as she joins a special task force in an attempt to aid in the war against drugs in the area surrounding the American and Mexican border. Villeneuve effortlessly combined the exceptional performances of Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio Del Toro into a thrilling masterpiece that continuously had me on the edge of me seat.
Sicario begins with Kate Macer leading her partner Reggie Wayne (Daniel Kaluuya) and the rest of her team on a kidnapping raid of a house in Chandler, Arizona. Villeneuve honed in on Kate to capture the tense anticipation in the air moments before the SWAT van exploded into the house’s front wall. Instantly Kate and her team sprung into action, taking out each hostile shooter, with Kate barely missing a shot to the head that was a little too close for comfort. After investigating further, the team discover dozens of bagged corpses behind the walls and quickly realize that a simple kidnapping mission has turned into the discovery of a key disposal site of a large Mexican cartel. This victory is short-lived as only minutes after two head FBI agents arrive on location, a couple of officers end up accidentally detonating an explosion during a follow-up inspection of the yard shed.
Kate is clearly left shaken from the incident as she not only almost lost her life twice, but yet again is uncovering body bags instead of stopping murderers. However, Kate’s boss Dave Jennings (Victor Garber) calls her into the office later that day to recommend her for an elite task force. This team of agents is run by the unconventional Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) who has been put in charge of searching for the men responsible for the day’s events, which includes cartel boss Manuel Diaz (Bernardo P. Saracino). Kate is eager to make a difference, so she quickly volunteers without truly taking the time to think through the repercussions of her decision. The next morning Kate boards a plane and officially meets the man of few words Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro), who informs her that they aren’t going to El Paso, Texas but instead are headed to Juarez, Mexico. Their mission is to extract a prisoner named Guillermo (Edgar Arreola) who is one of the head facilitator’s of Diaz’s cartel.
The three agents join up with a team of marine-esque super soldiers and begin their dangerous route across the border. Kate and the team were previously briefed that they would most likely meet trouble at the border on their way back in to the U.S. After a dramatic 20-minute build up to this event, the team spot two cars of cartel thugs that are trying to intercept their mission. A stand-off ensues leading to a good old-fashioned shoot out, and Kate once again relies on her outstanding instincts to save her life. Ass soon as they get back to base Kate lays into Matt for the team’s clear lack of care for designated procedures outside of American borders or potential civilian casualties. Matt argues back that this is the only way that is effective when fighting the cartel, and that she better get with the program because that’s how they do things on his team.
After the implied torture of Guillermo and the questioning of several illegals, Alejandro and Matt uncover the location of a tunnel used by the Diaz cartel to transfer drugs into the States. Kate feels like she is being left in the dark, so she brings her partner Reggie onto the team for some extra support and the two then confront Matt and Alejandro. They state that the plan is to create a major disruption in the operations of the cartel that Diaz will be called back to Mexico in order to meet with his boss Fausto Alarcon (Julio Cedillo), the man who truly decides who lives and who dies in the cover of night.
I’m going to stop there because the rest of the film is a whirlwind, and consistently makes you question what is right and what is wrong in the world. Therefore, if you haven’t had a chance to go and see Sicario just yet SKIP this next section and jump to the Mini-Spotlight on Emily Blunt as this section contains SPOILERS! However, if you have had a chance to watch the twists and turns of this exceptional thriller, then check out the list below for a few of my favourite parts.
Remember if you haven’t seen Sicario just yet this section contains SPOILERS:
- I was on edge for the beginning of the bar scene as I had a gut feeling that Ted (Jon Bernthal) was a suspicious character. However, after Reggie gave Ted a hug and stated that he was an old cop buddy I quickly became hopefully that Kate would have a fun night … THEN THE WRISTBAND HIT THE TABLE!!! My expression was painted across Kate’s face and the next few minutes I was completely engrossed in the film as I willed her to make it out alive!
- I absolutely loved the complexity that the side plot of the corrupt police officer Silvio (Maximiliano Hernandez) added to the film. I predicted his death the moment I saw he was a cop, but the anticipation of the when, how, and by who was what truly drew me in. These intermittent scenes added a level of humanity to his role because he was no longer viewed as just a corrupt cop, but as a father and a husband who was depended upon. His eventual death is a pawn’s sacrifice in the larger game of killing Alarcon. However, Villeneuve’s use of these short scenes allows the audience to mirror Kate’s feelings of the ethics behind what is necessary to take down the cartel.
- The sequence of Alejandro strategically offing each guard of the Alarcon estate was impressive as it took less than a couple of minutes, yet the entire family had such a strong sense of security that they barely noticed him approach the table. The switch between languages added to the suspense and I kept questioning what Alejandro would do with the family. Overall it was an excellent scene, as it was sad what Alejandro did to the family, but it stayed true to the vengeance he clearly had bottled up over the years.
MINI-SPOTLIGHT: Emily Blunt
I personally believe the role of Kate Mercer is hands-down Emily Blunt’s best role of her career thus far. The emotion she poured into each minute of this film broke my heart as she learned the hard way that her idealistic views would not be enough to stop the evil that is the Mexican drug cartel. However, I have also been impressed with the direction her career has taken in the past couple of years.
In Edge of Tomorrow she was strong and assertive as super-soldier Rita, which added a level of female empowerment as she balanced her screen time with action-star Tom Cruise. Also, in Looper she gave an exceptional performance as Sara, a tenacious mother who knew her child had the power to end the world, but also would do everything she could to protect him. Lastly, I can’t wait to see what she brings to her next roles as Freya alongside Chris Hemsworth in The Huntsman and as Rachel Watson in the book adaptation of The Girl on the Train.
If you still need an extra push to go see Sicario in theatres this month, then check out the link below for the official trailer!