Since it’s debut at Cannes several months ago, Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s latest film, Sicario, has garnered a great deal of buzz. If you haven’t heard of Villeneuve, you will. He’s quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s brightest directors, having broken through with intense dramas like Prisoners and Enemy. (He’s also been chosen to direct the sequel to Blade Runner as well.) With Sicario, he continues his hot streak, telling a tightly woven narrative that literally has you gripped from beginning to end. What’s more, the film is shot by cinetamagraphy legend, Roger ‘Someone Please Give This Guy an Oscar’ Deakins who beautifully stalks the action with the camera.
Sicario tells the story of Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), a DEA agent who is brought in to support a team of special ops led by Josh Brolin as they attempt to take on Mexican drug lords. Blunt describes Kate as “the audience’s surrogate” as we participate in this unfolding drama through her own inexperienced eye. The story is gritty, honest and seeks to reveal a lifestyle and world that is completely foreign to most of us. Brolin addresses this issue when he says “this situation is so close to home. We all talk about ISIS but the [problems] are right here. It’s our neighbor.”
Most interestingly is the ethical balance that plays out between the film’s lead characters. Blunt feels that Kate is “a moral character in an amoral world” as she attempts to come to grips with the travesties around her. However, this leads very quickly into conversation about whether or not it’s truly possible to do what is right in the face of insurmountable violence and evil.
Sicario is a riveting drama that doesn’t make that question easy to answer.
But it’s going to make you ask.
Sicario (rated R for violence, language and disturbing images)
Starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro
d. Denis Villeneuve
***** (out of five)