Emily Blunt stars in director Denis Villenueve’s ‘Sicario.’

In the opening sequence of Sicario, Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) has just dodged a bullet (literally). As she comes up from the floor, her partner notices an anomaly behind the bullet hole in the wall. As they pull the foundation down, the bodies of human hostages appear to the horror of the agents. This is a fitting entrance for a film that is about the tearing down of our comfort and luxuries to reveal the sinister background happening around us.
Kate is brought on to join the team led by Matt (Josh Brolin) and Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), who are searching for the drug lord, Manuel Diaz, after they reveal his ties, and the ties of the Mexican cartel, with the bodies found in the first sequence. But Kate is above her head — journeying to Juarez, Mexico and entering a firefight she had no idea existed.
Consumed in tension and lack of security, Kate plays the part of the audience as director Denis Villenueve leads us into the darkness of Sicario and reveals what really must be done to accomplish goals in the modern age.
Kate came up the right way. She is a hard worker who goes by the book and is not afraid to turn down a challenge when one, such as the case with Diaz, is presented to her. But Kate doesn’t have the grit of Alejandro or Matt, this trait that allows them to get away with what Kate sees as the wrong way of doing things, but still appears successful alongside the results.
Sicario works best when it is getting to the heart of the cartel case rather than the political elements that surround it. Blunt has no fear in the lead role, crafting Kate into a no nonsense and hard-nosed battering ram, but one that isn’t sure she is being pointed in the right direction.
While this idea is what invests us in the film, what cements our pleasure is in the story of Alejandro and his revenge against the cartel. Del Toro plays the role with a detached strength, reminiscent to the anti-heroes that drive us to the much bigger fares — brooding and holding onto a past that he only gives us inches of information about along the way.
Because of this, Del Toro’s Alejandro becomes the compelling staple and driving force of Sicario’s third act, pushing the boundaries of the political undercurrents into a full-fledged revenge thriller that makes the final raid something of true spectacle. This is in large part due to the work by Roger Deakins as the cinematographer, who makes the desolate wasteland of the Mexican and Western American desert into a picturesque view that fields comparisons to Lawrence of Arabia and The Searchers, but with a demented purview.
Much like his previous two features, Villenueve is diving headfirst into the unspoken game being played across the border. As the curtain is pulled, and Kate becomes more involved in the case, the political plot loses its steam, but the point being made on the current state of affairs still rings true in the climax.
As Alejandro meets his mark, and faces the man that took his life away, he is told “who do you think we learned (these tricks) from?” As he signals the United States, Alejandro doesn’t flinch because he knows he is currently knee-deep with the people who this man is referencing to, but as Matt tells Kate when she exits the cave at the end of the final raid, things are changing and the way of getting to the final step must be changed in order to accomplish your goal.
Sicario is a slow fall into a world consumed by darkness, and one that feels almost too fictional to have any truth to it. But as the bullets fly among the highway traffic, and a boy looks upon the bed his father once occupied, the conflict becomes more real and the wall is broken down fully.


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