I went to see this R-rated thriller on Wednesday (10/14) with my dad. I made this accompaniment choice for a few reasons. 1: My dad is comfortable with the genre, he’s a fan of Josh Brolin, he enjoys mind games and corrupted morals, and most importantly, we share a deep love for actress Emily Blunt (although for slightly different reasons).
There will not be any spoilers.
I still remember how my heart leapt when I saw Sicario’s trailer for the first time. Emily Blunt as a baddass FBI agent taking on the drug cartel? Sign me up! I had known the premise for sometime before I saw the visual, though, being that I’m an avid stalker of Blunt’s IMDB page. This, along with the sterling critics reviews got my hopes up to astronomical heights.
Let’s talk about Emily Blunt for a second. Honestly, I could talk about her forever, but for your sake I’ll try to keep my love fest brief. I first saw her in The Devil Wears Prada in which she took a supporting role opposite the very talented Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep. Blunt was an absolute scene stealer. Yes, she stole scenes from MERYL STREEP. She is truly one of the more versatile actresses I’ve ever seen. She’s never played the same role twice, in fact, she seems to not even try the same genre twice. Blunt can go from portraying Queen Victoria in the very sweet and well made The Young Victoria (2009), to battling futuristic robots with Tom Cruise as the “Full Metal Bitch” (Edge of Tomorrow, 2014) seamlessly. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see her cast as the sympathetic and ambivalent FBI agent Kate Macer in Sicario.
Sicario boasted a cast of accomplished and critically acclaimed actors: Emily Blunt (Golden Globe), Josh Brolin (Oscar), and Benecio Del Toro (Oscar), and each of them more than pulled their weight. However, the best performance in the film was not by anyone in front of the camera, but rather the director Denis Villeneuve. This film did not feature a lot of dialogue, so instead, every facial expression, eye twitch, cough, and tear had to move the story along. Moreover, the cinematography and score became characters in themselves. They established the tone, carried the plot, and breathed emotion into what would otherwise be a dark, but relatively “empty” story. The format reminded me of the movie Zero Dark Thirty, but with a less impassioned leading lady.
The movie opens on a raid that Agent Macer (Blunt) is leading in search of hostages. What she finds instead is that the walls of the house are riddled with dead bodies. This raid puts her on the map for shady might-be-CIA Agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin). Macer is quickly swept up into the dangerous and corrupt world of the drug cartels in Juarrez, Mexico. This is not what she signed up for, though, so she spends most of the movie infuriated with the amoral goings-ons of American government agencies on Mexican soil, and on the verge of a mental break down. Yes, she even has a “what have you become” mirror scene.
Agent Macer is a far cry from the futuristic war goddess that Blunt played in Edge of Tomorrow in terms of combat effectiveness, but she’s human, and her inclusion serves a specific purpose for the film maker, audience, and supporting characters.
Not a lot is known about the man who recruited her, Agent Graver (Brolin), other than he’s not telling Macer the full truth. His objectives and motivations remain shrouded in mystery for the majority of the film. He’s cocky, with an irreverent sense of humor and a belief that the ends justify his means.
The third member of this talented trio is Benecio Del Toro as Alejandro, a non-American former lawyer who now runs with Agent Graves. Revealing too much about his character and backstory will major plot points away, so unfortunately I can’t give you much insight other than he’s relatively standoffish and very serious. At the beginning, Macer attempts to befriend him, which should tell you how desperate she was for some semblance of a human connection. I will say this: Benecio Del Toro played his role to perfection, and the last scene between he and Blunt was by far my favorite of the movie.
Sicario is dark, and broody, and beautiful. It gets my recommendation.