After seeing the movie Prisoners a few years ago, I knew that director Denis Villeneuve had a bright future in the movie industry. That film had a terrific cast, was wonderfully acted, looked perfectly dark, and was perhaps the most visually and emotionally intense and disturbing (in a good way) thing I’ve ever seen in theaters. So how could he follow it up? Oh, just a light, fluffy movie about the never-ending drug trade in Mexico. With brutal violence, much of which comes from subject matters in reality I’m sure, Villeneuve was able to craft Sicario into a heart-stopping brutal piece of action and drama, further cementing himself as someone able to deliver outstanding films in Hollywood.
Once again, the audience is treated to a Villeneuve film led by some terrific actors. Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent who is brought on board by the CIA to help in their various missions south of the border. An all-star in her line of work (finding drug dealers in the U.S.), she is shocked and appalled at the specific ways in which her new team carries out their objectives. Her character is a bit static, and while not the most exciting type of character, Blunt was tremendous as a shaken, broken officer. But the true star of this movie was without question, Benicio Del Toro. A silent, intimidating, always one step ahead of you kind of assassin, with a history that is sketchy for the majority of the film, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. His scenes were always the most impactful, and his acting was sickeningly good.
Much like Prisoners, the cinematography in Sicario was outstanding. From the sprawling car scene in Juarez to simple shots at a hotel in Tucson, the movie looked like it felt. It was dark, ominous, and a perfect representation of the savage drug trade. This flick also had scenes that will leave your mouth gaping from shock, and have you on the edge of your seat. Villeneuve has crafted a way to perfectly surprise the audience, and make them amazed at the reality and insanity of what’s going on, and you’re completely sucked into this world.
With all of this said, for a reason I can’t put into words, Sicario was tremendous, but not a 4-star, 10/10 type of deal. It had the acting, the intense sequences, and a great story. And yet for whatever reason, it didn’t quite grab me as much as say, Prisoners did. So while it was a smart action film, it wasn’t the movie of the year for me (which is, granted, an unfair expectation). I’ll give it three stars, but it’s a strong three.