Denis Villeneuve leads Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro into the dangerously unruly territory of drug cartels in the highly secretive crime-drama, Sicario.
FBI agent Kate Macer (Blunt) is selected for a special task force to help crack down on an out-of-control drug cartel ruling the roost around the US-Mexico boarder. With Josh Brolin’s cocky, hard-nosed agent Matt Graver and the ever-silent Alejandro (Del Toro) also on board, Macer is inflicted to a brutal, rule breaking environment that’s a far cry away from the by-the-book work she’s used to.
Villeneuve’s CV (boasting 2013’s Enemy and Prisoners) shows he’s got a good handle on how to ramp up tension in slow-building fashion. There are moments of pure gruesomeness, like the blood-soaked collection of dead bodies and mutilated corpses hanging from bridges, yet it’s the ever-constant, deranged, heart-pounding musical accompaniment and the all-too-frequent sound of nearby gunshots which has the most lasting effect, lingering heavily over this hardy spectacle.
Blunt’s FBI agent, Kate Macer, takes us through the murky world of drug-peddling murderers, boundary-pushing government officials and Benicio Del Tero’s ever-so-secretive Columbian operative Alejandro in a constant state of confusion. It’s a position Macer hates; a diplomatic agent used to doing it by the book, she’s left questioning everything she sees and everyone she meets. It’s another worthy turn from the Edge of Tomorrow star as she mixes vulnerability with a hard-nosed sense of morality, which really shines through.
There’s much to scratch one’s head over, but it’s Del Toro’s Alejandro that is the real mystery. He says very little, but you know he’s a bad ass. Staring, glaring and looking all sinister, he perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Sicario. His tight-lipped antics embody the secretiveness of proceedings; the who, what, where and when that everybody – particularly Macer – want answering.
It’s a gritty affair that’s as effective in what it doesn’t say or do as it in what it actually pulls off. Impressive sequences, including a Zero Dark Thirty-esque night-vision shoot-em-up, were expertly choreographed, and it’s score was a constant source of tension. Yet it’s a morally-involved spectacle, that asks plenty of questions, yet gives little away. Frustrating, fascinating and gruelling in equal measure, this is Villeneuve’s best work yet.