An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the US and Mexico.
Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve returns with a suspenseful and ever surprising cartel thriller. Sicorio begins with one carnage scene which sets the apocalyptic tone for everything that follows. In fact the plot demands attention but never becomes too difficult to follow and displays an almost sadistic level of suspense. The message is: are we willing to bend the rules and sell our souls to fight a war that will probably never be won? Plus, who earns our sympathy? From Brolin's to Del Toro's characters. The answer is no one. The environment characters are constantly surrounded by sips into the audience and you feel the crashing weight of their situation.
Some may complain that the lead, played effectively by Emily Blunt, is a sexist portrayal. But this might just be the best piece I've ever seen from her. In a terrific performance that recalls the ferocity of Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs. Though she's still young and naive enough to believe that there's a right side in this war and that the US is on it. Moreover, Benicio Del Toro is every inch impressive, with a considerably more complicated character. Calm as a predator lying in wait, or revealing flashes of humanity when least expected. Even sometimes a Hannibal Lecter-ish lust for this young woman thrust into his path. Denis Villeneuve is a master of the kind of creeping tension that circles around the audience like a snake suffocating its prey.
The opening sequence is a marvel of action and exposition. In fact, the film opens with a drug-raid sequence, slickly handed by Villeneuve. Still Sicario has a definite beginning, middle and end director isn't interested in cosy, comfy three acts armature. The film smoothly departs first into a kind of Zero Dark Thirty style and then it wades into an old fashioned No Country for Old Men blood-and-revenge territory. The movie flows extremely well as a suspense film. Even scenes where nothing remarkable happen, you are waiting for something to happen. Villeneuve stages one extraordinary suspense set-pieces after another. Using sharp, colour saturated, compositions of cinematographer Roger Deakins - probably one of the best cinematographer alive; and airtight cutting of editor Joe Walker and the subtly menacing score of composer Johan Johansen. There's no hope, this film is utterly dark.
Overall, Denis Villeneuve with Sicario delivers (once again) an impeccably well crafted film.