‘Sicario’ and the war on drugs
“Nothing of what you’ll see here will make sense to your american eyes, and you will question everything. But in the end, you’ll understand.”
Twenty minutes past the opening sequence of ‘Sicario’, Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) warns Kate (Emily Blunt) about the world she is about to get into. Denis Villeneuve’s latest film is a new aproach in a theme that the director of the acclaimed ‘Incendies’ (2010) explores quite frequently: introspective characters in an unbalanced and chaotic environment. ‘Sicario’ is the 16th film in the Canadian director’s career, being one of the major Quebecois directors who have broken through the american film industry in the past few years, and his latest flick shows a thrill-filled and critical view on the “war on drugs” in the american-mexican borderland.
‘Sicario’ is an original script written by Taylor Sheridan, in his film screenwriting premiere, and it shows Emily Blunt, in one of the best performances of her career, as a promissing and idealistic FBI agent who gets promoted to join a task force run by a mysterious Josh Brolin, comissioned to take down the infamous Mexican Cartel. On that same task force, an intimidating Benicio Del Toro takes part as an “outside consultant” that assists in the mission and works as a “counterweight” to Blunt’s inexperienced character, concerned with practices being undertaken by her team. The narrative follows Blunt’s Kate Macer from a FBI raid to a drug cartel’s hideout that reveals a gruesome picture of the reality that Macer is about to go into, to her actions and problems with the task force. The camera rarely leaves Blunt out of its sights through out 121 minutes, and one of the most amazing features of the film is that all the opressive intensity and tense scenes take place in three days, the film’s timeline.
Any fan of the genre can’t help but notice some familiarities with previous cartel/drug related films, like ‘Traffic’ (2000), ’21 Grams’ (2003) or ‘No Country for Old Men’ (2007), all of which star either Del Toro or Brolin. This relation can come as a sort of a nod, as their characters show experience, corruption and relentlessness in ‘Sicario’, while Blunt’s Kate Macer seems out of her depth in this new operation, as she realises that the just, honest and righteous world in which she believed was nothing than a facade . Regardless, the performances by Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro are two of the high points of this film, and they are sure to grant them a consideration in future awards. The same could be said about the cinematography and camera projection of the film, as Villeneuve is able to capture beautiful and complex shots and scenery with the help of drones and surveillance cameras as aids. Overall, ‘Sicario’ comes as a very interesting film, where the viewer will not find comfort but will definitely get a good piece of cinema. A definite must-see.