Denis Villeneuve does it again! He is proving that Prisoners and Enemy were no flukes. This man has so much talent. Of course, he didn’t do it alone. Roger Deakins produced some of his best work at the helm of cinematographer. Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, and Josh Brolin were phenomenal. Combined with the intense score of Johann Johannson, this film may be a contender for best of the year.
This may be the best looking film of 2015. It is right up there with the Revenant (from what I can see in the trailers). This is mainly in part to Roger Deakins, cinematographer. There were several shots in this film that I couldn’t figure out how they shot. Deakins put the camera in a wide variety of places and his scenic shots were simply amazing. Overall, if you’re looking for a movie that just looks amazing, I’d have to recommend this one.
But this film is more than meets the eye. Sicario is a dark thriller that aims to challenge the views that we share about the cartels. Villeneuve directs this movie to perfection by creating intense shots with the help of a great score from Johannson. Villeneuve described his film as a dark poem and it definitely shows in the pacing and its structure. This film keeps you at the edge of your seat. The characters are regularly shrouded in mystery and the misdirection never contradicts itself like most films with so many twists and turns. Each action is carefully sculpted to shape each character. The character development is fantastic and realistic. This film is full of surprises. Some of the scenes make me cringe from being so intense. The film knew what tone it was trying to achieve and stuck with it. I can’t say enough about how I loved this film.
Josh Brolin’s performance was fantastic and over shadowed by Benicio Del Toro and Emily Blunt. He deserves credit for still being a stellar supporting role. He never got in the way of the main characters. He still had enough personality that you were intrigued about who he was. Brolin took the secretive strong powerful role and made it light hearted with poignant dialogue and his casualness. He wear flip flops in the opening shot that we meet him. He constantly remains upbeat and passionate about what he does. He may be easy to read at first, but his character evolves over time. Brolin turns into a someone with many secrets who knows how to hold them.
Emily Blunt gives an amazing performance of the reserved FBI agent trying to make a difference, Kate. She witnesses one of the grossest scenes in any agents life and realizes that what she is doing isn’t working. She is given the opportunity to make a real difference and she takes it. Her character experiences so many hardships along the way, and she has the drive to keep fighting to see the end goal. Although, she was played, it was a true character study of someone coming out of their shell and facing major repercussions for doing so. The emotion that she feels is palpable. Each time something goes bad and she gets beat up, you can see the despair on her face. Her action scenes are quite impressive and realistic. You can see that she is one of the best agents and she holds herself in that way. Blunt is familiar in an action role from last years Edge of Tomorrow, but this character is different. She is showing how versatile of an actress that she is. Even in an action star, she creates a full character. I have no idea what her situation would do to a person. That being said, Blunt shows the audience exactly how to react in that situation as the moral compass. But we see the war-torn atmosphere not granting her that wish.
The character that ends up destroying her character more than anyone is Benicio Del Toro. His name in the film is Alejandro, who is a mysterious character that the audience slowly learns about throughout the whole film. The film subtly hints to who he is by the Mexican supporting characters calling him Medllin. Brolin explains that it means order from the older days; on some other sources, it means ghost. That is the perfect metaphor to describe Del Toro’s character. In a war stricken world, he remains the face of help that may not be the in prettiest light. His character shows why he is completely necessary.
I’m going to get into some major spoilers now. You’ve been warned.
Over many of the reviews that I’ve seen the person says that there’s no message to film. I strongly disagree. The message is that there is always a necessary evil. Blunt is the most inherently good character in the film but she is constantly led astray, tricked, and exploited. The line that best describes it is when she says “I tried to have sex with my hitman.” Del Toro lies to her and claims that he was after Brolin and him to let her know that it will all be okay. Blunt got herself into that situation because she tried to arrest Manuel Diaz at the bank and got her face on the camera. Brolin recruited Del Toro because Del Toro is so driven and motivated to avenge his family, which he considers good, that he destroys families and wrecks everything in sight to fight for them. Does this make him a good character? That depends on the point of view and perspective. Brolin is also not the most good because he agrees and supports Del Toro do his unimaginable acts like aiding the torture of Guillermo and the Phoenix police man. It makes the viewer pick a side and think about the cartels in a whole new way. During the border scene, Blunt freaks out and for good reason but Brolin knows that he can control the media and the people entering the country won’t speak out because they want to leave Mexico. It’s eye opening to say the least.
Misdirection is another huge theme. Brolin and Del Toro tell Blunt and her partner that they learned about the cave from Guillermo. They clearly learned that from the Mexican police man, so what did they learn from Guillermo? When the corrupt cop that we’ve grown to like would be delivering the drugs or was it just to kill him in the most inhumane way ever? It is never explained, the audience can only make assumptions. The whole point of having Blunt and her partner on the task force is to make the Del Toro mission semi legal. Even then, she’s put at gun point with many threats if she speaks out and doesn’t sign the legal documents. They misdirect the public by making what they’re doing legal and humane. Blunt and her partner are also left in the dark for everything; when they do act for answers and they get lies. They aren’t briefed for anything ever. But they are tricked into doing the last mission because Brolin knows how to play Blunt’s character.
Overall, this dark film is a wild ride that takes so many twists and turns with so many hidden messages. I would recommend it to anyone. Its pacing and score keep the tone consistent and menacing. This film is not without errors but it’s pretty clear it is a strong contender for film of the year.
Score: 9.5 out of 10