The concept of thrillers comes in all shapes and sizes. There are times where the genre dives into a person's psychosis, or they can easily throw moviegoers into the scene of a crime. The latest thriller in theaters falls into the ranks of crime thrillers; but this particular film shows the harshness of agencies facing drug cartels across the border. Simply known as Sicario, this movie is directed by Denis Villeneuve, the man known for other crime-themed movies like Incendies and Prisoners. Seeing its gritty nature in the trailer, this movie looked to be one that could have audiences on the edge of their seats. So could Sicario entice moviegoers with its dark plot, or is this crime thriller better off buried?
The story of Sicario follows FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt). Kate is assigned to a special task force run by government official Matt Gracer (Josh Brolin). The team's mission is take down a powerful cartel in Mexico by any means necessary. This includes enlisting the help of a mysterious hitman named Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro). As the mission goes on, Kate questions the motivation of this task force and the role she has to play in stopping the cartel.
Sicario's story certainly holds true to the concepts presented in its previews. When it came to showing the gritty nature of agencies stopping drug cartels, the plot shows that this scenario is not black and white; and for that reason I found the story to be effective. However, while the plot ideas are great, I found this thrilling story to be lacking in certain areas. Though it was a good story, the plot did not have much complexity to it. Sicario was all about the team catching the cartel and that was about it. Perhaps I was expecting too much from the story, but I felt that there could have been more done to make the plot more engaging. The other thing that had me scratching my head was the movie's subplot. The story featured scenes of Mexican cop Silvio (Maximiliano Hernandez) spending time with his family. While this subplot managed to fit with the rest of the film, I wondered if the story of Silvio was truly necessary. While the story behind Sicario had some missteps, this is not to say that the crime movie's plot was not effective.
The cast of Sicario may have been small, but it was certainly a strong grouping of actors. Emily Blunt had a solid performance as Kate, who was an effectual guide to the world of Sicario. Josh Brolin provided his unique charisma as Matt. Though Matt had several comedic lines in the film, he could also be intimidating. This contrast in Matt's personality simply showcased the variety in Brolin's performance. Then there was Benicio del Toro as Alejandro. Like his peers, del Toro showed his range as Alejandro; Alejandro is an antihero that I could not help but find interesting because of this. Along with the strong leads was an impressive supporting cast, featuring the likes of Daniel Kaluuya, Victor Garber, Jeffery Donvan and Jon Bernthal. The only issue I had with the cast were the characters' execution. The performances were good, there was no denying it, but the characters themselves were lacking in development. This is not to say that I did not find the characters engaging, but I could not help but feel that more could have been done to make this cast a stronger ensemble.
Sicario's technical factors were fitting given the film's concepts. The film's cinematography captured the world of Mexico and elaborated the film's gritty tone. The film's action may not have had the most impact, but it did feel appropriate given the idea behind Sicario. The score by Johann Johannsson was good for the movie, too, though I was surprised at how subtle the music was. These elements worked, but like the film's other factors, there was one thing that prevented these aspects from being solid. In this case, it was the direction. Denis Villenueve's direction was by no means bad, but there was something that was working against the technical elements. Perhaps it was a need to make these factors stand out. For example: While the cinematography was decent, there were moments and shots that either went too long or were handled in a strange manner. It was great to see Villenueve and the other filmmakers put so much emphasis into Sicario's technical aspects, but this seems to be a case where less would have been more.
While the film may not have been the definitive crime thriller, Sicario was still a unique presentation. The movie showed the dark underworld of Mexico and how dealing with cartels can be a gray-filled situation. Along with strong story elements were fantastic performances from the whole cast, as well as technical factors that were fitting for a film of this subject matter. When it comes down to it, the film's major issue was its execution. The movie was quite entertaining, but if Sicario could have been elaborated in certain areas, then it could have been a stronger feature. Yet while it may have its share of issues, Sicario was still (in this adventurer's opinion) an engaging thriller.
Take a look at this high tension clip below to see exactly why I'm urging you to go see this movie after reviewing it.