In Mexico, Sicario means hitman.
The psychological thriller genre has got a strong history. With Nolan and Fincher taking an incredible stronghold, it seems almost impossible that someone could break rank and rise up to stand beside them. With previous films Prisoners and Enemy on his list, Denis Villeneuvre is clearly making his mark. Sicario is no exception.
Sicario follows Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) as a high ranking FBI agent, brought in to fight the war on drugs with a mysterious government task force.
Written by the relative unknown Taylor Sheridan, the story itself is a great drug land thriller. Although slow, the intensity within the direction blends perfectly with the pacing of the story. With carefully constructed scenes, it’s quite impressive that something so interesting could come from someone with very little experience. Keeping the characters a mystery, the story is lead by its constant shrouding of the truth rather than build upon their personalities. It’s at this juncture however where we hit an impasse in the story and may leave a mixed crowd of excitement and disappointment. For me, this lack of development only adds to the tension, but to others, it might leave them feeling a little bored.
Overall, Sicario is simply stunning. The direction is perfect, managing to take suburban drug towns and stage them beautifully as the backdrop. The camera work is particularly impressive with skills ranging from tactical maneuvers to intimate bar scenes. Carefully adding his trademarks, Villeneuvre slowly drip feeds us the story, quietly building tension with every heart pounding scene. Choosing to focus on slightly different characters to usual, it’s nice to see him experiment within a different setting. It’s hard to find fault with something that’s done so well.
To wrap up the triple threat, we can’t end this review without talking about the actors. Overall, the casting is great but in some ways, it’s the only area that needed some improvement. Del Toro hands down gives one of his best performances in years. With some left disappointed by his role in last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, he completely redeems himself here showing just how much of a veteran he is. Josh Brolin is equally impressive, also bouncing back from some relatively frustrating performances. If there is one criticism, it’s with Emily Blunt. As with all her films, im always left in the opinion that someone else could have done the role a little better. The role needed a Jessica Chastain or even a Marion Cotillard, but instead we have to settle for another ‘just about enough’ performance from Blunt.
In the end Sicario is amazing. Although I predict a fairly mixed response, it doesn’t stop me from saying its one the best films of the year. Hypnotising from start to finish, its impossible not to be fascinated by both the story and by Del Toro’s performance. Definitely top 10, undeniably top 5, where will it sit on your list? 4.5 out of 5 stars