Sunday, November 29, 2015


How far are you willing to go to achieve justice? At want point do you draw a line you will never cross? And what happens when you are forced over that line by forces beyond you control? These questions are all at the heart of Sicario, a drama from director Denis Villeneuve and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan that stars Emily Blunt as idealistic FBI Agent Kate Macer stationed in Arizona. Kate volunteers for a joint DEA task force after the discovery of dozens of corpses in Chandler, Arizona, all tied to a Mexican drug cartel in a house rigged with explosives that takes the lives of two fellow officers.

Completely unaware of what she's getting herself into, and lied from the beginning by the head of the task force (Josh Brolin) and his mysterious consultant (Benicio Del Toro), Kate follows the pair down the rabbit hole leading to a kidnapping in Juarez, Mexico (where she has no authority) and the torture of Mexican citizen, as she struggles with the end game of finding drug lord Fausto Alarcón (Julio Cedillo). Along the way she will discover the power of the Mexican cartel and their reach which extends into law enforcement on her side of the border.

Blunt is terrific in a role that forces her to react to a world where the rules instilled on her no longer apply. In a much smaller role as her partner in the FBI, Daniel Kaluuya is well-cast as a man struggling to both understand and comfort his friend with decisions and outcomes she can't understand completely and isn't allowed share with him. If Blunt is the heart of the film Del Toro is the core of its mystery. His character's true story will finally push Kate over the edge to make the kinds of decisions she found impossible only days before. Del Toro's character is never quite who he seems in a understated role that is one of the best of his career.

Opening with the discovery of dozens of corpses, there is a menace behind every frame of Sicario as Kate and her team work to try and bring those responsible to justice. Kate's struggle to come to grips with the actions of the task force working outside the bounds of the law will stretch her to the breaking point. Her journey, much more than the capture of the drug lord, is what the film is truly about. Brutal at times, Sicario never flinches from its examination of the world which is slowly drowning our protagonist, but nor does it revel in the violence to an unnecessary extent. This isn't a Tarantino movie. Villeneuve makes excellent choices in what to show to audiences and what to simply allude to in Kate's controlled descent into darkness.

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