Sicario

RATED - (R) -121-MIN-2015

                                                                  

                                                       Smart, thrilling, and brutal, Sicario is one of this year’s best films.

(Emily Blunt) as DEA agent Kate Macer is absolutely wonderful in this excellent thriller by director (Denis Villeneuve) who made one the best films of 2013: (Prisoners). This story, about the ruthless war on drugs between Mexico and the US, really has no true “right” side to root for, as justice is blurred as the bodies pile up, and families are destroyed. In some ways, like (Prisoners) the lengths one would go to reach their goal, are again magnified in this thrilling movie, where everyone is tainted, after certain acts.

We are Blunt’s eyes, as she and a team of agents in the opening of the film, are targeting a residence in Arizona,which is  controlled by the Mexican cartel, and is thought to be hiding hostages. When they literally, destroy a side of the house with an armored vehicle, they find a few cartle soldiers inside, but, upon further investigation, they discover, to their horror, countless bodies buried within the house’s walls, and booby traps elsewhere that leave several agents dead.

Since this took place on our side, some heavy hitters come in and evaluate the situation.Kate and her partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluyya) are sickened and horrified by what they see, and Kate wants to see justice served. Back at the local DEA headquarters, she is brought into a meeting with her boss Dave Jennings( Victor Garber), and several other people who appear to be some other federal agents. The head of this group Matt (a cocky and assured Josh Brolin) having fun with this role, asks Kate if she would like to help them catch the men responsible for all those deaths at the house. She says yes, even thought she is wary and unaware of what is to come. Matt says they are heading to Mexico to extract an important cartel member, and bring him back to the states. This will cause a major disruption, which will send a ripple effect, through the cartel, that will hurt the drug traffickers significantly. There will be consequences, but it will be worth it.

On a jet heading to the meeting point for the members, who will ride in a dangerous caravan into Juarez, Mexico to pull a top drug leader out, Kate meets the mysterious agent named Alejandro ( a brooding and fantastic Benicio Del Toro) who appears to be the person in charge along with Matt. Once landed, they are briefed in a room full of heavily armed special op forces, about the dangers of the extraction, and when they can expect the cartel to strike back; probably as they make their way back across the border into the US. This is a fantastic beginning to this tense film, as the parade of black SUVs cross the border, and are then escorted by Mexican agents with gunners on the back of pick ups,speeding to their target. Kate starts to rethink what she got herself into. When she sees naked dead bodies hanging from an overpass in Juarez; a message to those who would dare cross the cartel, she really gets nervous. Once they have picked up their man, they head back to the border only to be in a major traffic jam. They are now sitting ducks. Any car could be filled with assassins waiting to gun the group down. How this scene builds, is brilliant filmmaking, and we keep cutting to Blunt as she shows so much with just they way she looks around and her darting eyes. Blunt does much with little dialogue. When what you think will happen, does, it is brilliantly staged. The music by composer (Jóhann Johansson ) has these guttural low synth notes that transposes and bend, adding to the sickening mood of it’s main character. It sets a perfect tone.

After the incident in Juarez, Kate starts to question Matt and then Alejandro, but is only giving cryptic answers, and told she is doing well; just observe and learn. Kate begins to unravel, but forges on, thinking that there must be a point to this violence and chaos. The film moves at a thunderous, and ominous pace. You know bad things are going to happen. The stakes are way to high. All three leads are very well cast,and they all have great moments. This is a smart movie, that knows not to pander, and trust in it’s actors to deliver many times with little or no dialogue. Blunt’s sweaty nervous face says it all for us, As this group keeps poking at the cartel bear, you know darkness looms. There are some later brilliantly staged scenes that will have you on the edge of your seat. One of the last involves going into a cartel tunnel, and all of the scenes are done with knight vision.Brolin remains an enigma for the most part, but as you slowly learn of Del Toro’s story, and his motivation, you will become very afraid of what he will do next. He has no boundaries.He is a man who is a shell of his former self; another person destroyed by the violence, who is now something completely different.

Villeneuve keeps cutting back, throughout the film, to a family in Mexico. It is a mother, father, and son. They live in modest means. The father appears to be an officer of some sort. He is out late alot. His son wakes him often, asking his tired dad if he will go play soccer with him, as he has to practice. You know something is off here, but the family seems to be close, and the son obviously loves his dad. His dad seems to do the best he can for his young son. The mom does her duties faithfully, as in any loving family. You keep waiting for Villeneuve to hit you with a gut punch, but it doesn’t come. Later in the film, you will see why the revisits to this family are so important. He is trying to show you a scope of the tragedy across the border, and how history can keep repeating itself. When he finally resolves the setup to these acts, it is both heartbreaking, and poignant, as you will see his bigger point in this microcosm of a horrible problem….brilliant.

This is wonderful film, from a director, that we should all be looking forward to seeing his next movie. He is the real deal.

You should see this film.

watch the trailer