Sicario is at it’s best when, like it’s protagonist Kate Macer (Emily Blunt), you are in the dark as to exactly what is happening. It is a film which moves in the shadows, both in terms of the characters that inhabit it and how it slowly eeks out its plot to the watching audience. While this leads to some gripping cinema, it doesn’t exactly lend itself to writing up a comprehensive review.
So what can we tell you? The aforementioned Kate is an FBI agent, who along with her partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya) is working in Arizona. On what appears a routine operation, they discover the house they’ve been raiding is filled with dead bodies before an IED hidden in the shed kills two officers. When Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) then gives Kate the chance to join his team who are trying to track down whoever was responsible for this, she quickly agrees, desperate to make a difference.
The world she is then dragged into isn’t the one that she expects. It’s a place where the good guys aren’t always good and the book is left at home. Alone in the dark, she begins to question exactly what she is doing and slowly loses confidence in the operation she is a part of. It’s a performance that is wonderfully delivered by Emily Blunt. As an actress we are used to seeing in lighter roles, it is strange seeing her play something quite this serious but she is more than equal to the task. Kate is a complex character who while perfectly capable of surviving in this male dominated world, still displays a fragility that stands her apart from those around her.
Sicario also looks incredible, with it surely being all set to be Roger Deakins 13th Oscar nomination, although whether he’ll finally win one is another matter entirely. One particular scene in the final act, which is played out through night vision goggles, is nail-bitingly tense and a big part of that is down to the way that it shot. Between Deakins and director Denis Villeneuve they’ve managed to create a world that we never quite get a grasp of, but which we see enough to make sure your mind never wanders away from what you are watching.
Elsewhere Benicio del Toro‘s character is the real mystery at the centre of the film. While Brolin’s Graver growls his way through scenes, all macho belligerence and cocky grins. Del Toro’s Alejandro Gillick is constantly on the edge of things, never revealing enough of himself to let us truly know where his loyalty lies, but showing weaknesses that make us want to sympathise with him. Whether we are right to or not.
Sicario is a film which benefits from you walking into it with as little knowledge about it as possible, so in all honesty you probably shouldn’t have bothered with this review. It’s a tense trip into a murky world that really makes you ponder just how far we should be willing to go to get the results we might crave.