Hot Take: At the onset, Sicario is unnerving. Throughout, it is tense and brutal. At completion, it is unsettling and thought provoking. One of the must-see films of the year.
There are few movies that establish tension so quickly and manage to maintain the feeling throughout as Sicario does. It’s no surprise the film is directed by Denis Villeneuve who accomplishes similar in 2013’s Prisoners. However, the way it is done in Sicario is much different as it relies on some powerful scenes that catapult the viewer into the losing battle that is the war on drugs. There are four scenes in Sicario that all could vie for “Scene of the Year” if there were such an award.
Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro all deliver excellent performances. Of the three, Del Toro delivers the strongest. Blunt’s lead role as Kate Macy, an FBI agent recruited for a government task force, is compelling as she grapples with the shades of gray the operation works in while herself only knowing black and white. Brolin is very believable as the leader of the task force created to stir things up.
In the end, Sicario is a film that will stick with you. Like it’s main character, the audience is taken into a world of gray and challenged to decide what is right and wrong. Unlike The Martian which celebrates being human and takes the viewer on a spectacular, satisfying journey, Sicario digs deep into the underbelly of the drug war, presents questionable yet potentially justifiable ethics and leaves the viewer unsettled, purposefully and powerfully.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Setting the Mood with Excellent Cinematography
Cinematographer Roger Deakins has been nominated 12 times for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography (including the last three years with Unbroken, Prisoners and Skyfall). Another nomination should be imminent and maybe the 13th time’s the charm?
- Enhancing the Mood with a Dark, Tense Score
Fresh off a Golden Globe Award win and Academy Award nomination for The Theory of Everything, composer Johann Johannsson delivers the perfect musical backdrop to establish the discomfort of everything happening in Sicario.
- You’ll Want More of Benicio Del Toro
Del Toro’s Alejandro could have been the focal point of the film. With talk of a Sicario sequel, it would not be surprising to see the second film to do just that. For some reason, Sicario‘s Alejandro reminded me of The Wire‘s Omar.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- There’s Something About Sicario
From start to finish, Sicario had me invested. In the end, there was a bad aftertaste that lingered. Maybe that was the point but it wasn’t definitely the point.
- Overcompensating for an Underdeveloped Script
The previously mentioned cinematography and score are used adeptly to cover up a script that has a solid foundation but little depth. The four standout scenes hold the film together but it feels like Sicario relies on those scenes.