“Sicario means hitman in Mexico” is the first thing we see from the opening scene in the new Dennis Villeneuve film. This was easily in my top 3 most anticipated movies of 2015 simply because of the director’s past work. I loved the baffling Enemy starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the harrowing Prisoners which also stars Jake Gyllenhaal opposite Hugh Jackman. Sicario opens with Emily Blunt’s character (Kate) leading a raid in an Arizona home suspected of having hostages. After what she discovers in that house, she is recruited by Josh Brolin’s character (Matt) who convinces her to join his special ops team specializing in the war on drugs in Mexico in order to make a real difference. Her partner is played by Daniel Kaluuya who I was excited to see because I had just watched the British twilight zone-esque miniseries Black Mirror and he was a revelation in that show and even though he didn’t have a big role in this film he was excellent. Kate joins Matt in a private jet to go to Mexico and they’re accompanied by the mysterious Benicio Del Toro’s character (Alejandro) who was once a prosecutor and is now a consultant on this mission.
Kate doesn’t know much about the operation she is getting herself into and Matt is very vague about what everyone is doing and keeps telling her “sponge up everything, learn, that is why you’re here”. The audience are in Kate’s shoes trying to figure out what everyone’s intentions are so everything we see is through her character. We are introduced into this brutal world full of decapitated bodies hung in the streets and you just feel that these characters are never going to be safe in this town. There is a traffic jam scene where the characters are transporting a wanted prisoner and it was one of the most intense scenes I have ever seen, not because of the actual action scene but everything leading up to it. The music is eerie and you can see from the character’s faces that no one feels safe and you are dreading every moment. This is what Dennis Villeneuve excels in, creating an atmosphere that you are completely engrossed in. One of many things I love about this movie is that it not only shows the Americans point of view but how a small family in Mexico can be affected by the continuous war on drugs by showing us a glimpse of their daily lives in between the main plot.
Our main characters can go from being playful with each other to utter seriousness in a heart beat. Emily Blunt is playing a somewhat naive FBI agent but she is also the emotional and morale center of the story and she was great in this movie. Benicio Del Toro steals the show by being subtle, mysterious and just badass, but he can also be absolutely terrifying. Josh Brolin was great playing this cool, funny, flip flop wearing head of the operation, but there were also layers to his character and by the end of the film you’ll feel like you didn’t have him all figured out. This movie is shot beautifully by the ridiculously talented Roger Dickens who also shot The Shawshank Redemption, No Country for Old Men and Prisoners. Dennis Villeneuve continues to impress me and I am convinced that he is not capable of making anything but exceptional movies. Sicario was a great thriller start to finish and will leave a bad taste in your mouth after walking out of the theater. (9.5/10)