| September 14, 2015

There’s no film that I’ve seen this year that retains the level of power and tension than Denis Villenueve’s latest, Sicario. Every single aspect of it, from Roger Deakins’ glorious cinematography, to Jóhan Jóhannson’s droning score, Sicario establishes a sense of dread and an air of menace, much in the same way that Prisoners and Enemy do, but in a combined effort that manages to showcase more of the talents at hand, as well showing that Villenueve knows how deliver intense action as much as suspense. Emily Blunt leads the film as FBI agent Kate Macer, who is enveloped after her team from the kidnapping division gets entangled with a Mexican Cartel case. With the case being much larger, the DEA creates a task force in order to sort things out, which include Josh Brolin as the leader and Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro, a member of the team who’s quiet and deadly demeanor showcase that he knows much more than Macer’s being told. The further along that Macer goes with the task force, things aren’t what they seem and Macer’s is confronted with the many evils that exist within the both the political red tape, as well as the ferocious beings that are a part of this drug war.

Again, every bit of Sicario is so well done, that not only Villenueve’s talents as a director are shown in full display, but many of the key department heads showcase why they’re some of the best in the business. Why Roger Deakins hasn’t received an Academy Award is still beyond me, but his work in Sicario is just as visceral and engaging as his work in The Assassination of Jesse James and No Country for Old Men. The tight script by Taylor Sheridan is reinforced by Joe Walkers well paced editing. Each moment either moves the story along, raises the stakes or informs us enough about the characters, in order for us to see how they’ll react within the elevated situations.

In regards to characters, both Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro deliver some of beautiful performances, especially in scenes together. Blunt maintains a sense of innocence, even as this hardened FBI agent, who retains the ability to be the anchor throughout the murky politics and the evil scheming within the narrative. She’s in way over her head and yet, it never feels as though she’s a weak female figure within the story. Del Toro’s enigmatic Alejandro offers mere glimpses of his past and his skill sets through minor character details and ticks that the actor delivers in a nuanced and strong performance. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is how the narrative shifts protagonists from one perspective to another, without having it feel awkward and uneasy.

Each of Villenueve’s previous efforts have had both uncomfortable subject matters and themes and Sicario is definitely no different. From the difficult red tape that government agencies employ, to the issues with the war on drugs and the damage that it does on both sides and its bystanders, Sicario pulls no punches to showcase the grey area within this struggle. If you loved tension built by Prisoners and Enemy, you’re bound to love this latest effort from Denis Villenueve. Highly Recommended! 

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.

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