“Sicario” states with a nihilistic tone that the war on drugs will never end and that you have to fight evil with evil. It’s also a very convincing look at how crippling cartel activity is in Mexico.
Emily Blunt stars as Kate; she’s the idealistic cop we’ve seen several times before, who grows cynical and horrified over a case she’s been given. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are a pair of mercenaries who act as Kate’s superiors; Brolin’s Matt is a smart ass calculating individual whilst Del Toro’s Alejandro is cold, mysterious, and trigger happy. These men are prepared to use Kate to wipe out all cartel leaders while Kate questions their morals.
“Sicario” is the third film I’ve seen of director Denis Villeneuve’s (“Prisoners” (2013), “Enemy” (2014)), and after seeing “Sicario”, Villeneuve is here to stay. “Sicario” is a cynical masterpiece filled with endless suspense, masterful directing, and excellent performances.
Blunt is Oscar worthy as Kate, delivering a hardened and vulnerable performance. We know she’s going to become jaded by the end of the movie, but we so desperately hope she sees the light. Del Toro is the scene stealer in this movie. He uses his expressive face to bring the morally ambiguous hitman much more depth. And of course, Josh Brolin is always enjoyable to watch.
The execution of “Sicario” makes it look like a dreadful maze. Between the aerial view shots of suburban Arizona and war-torn Juarez, Mexico, we know we’re following Kate into Hell and back. She thinks she’s going into this war for the right cause, not realizing she’s aiding anarchy.
That’s the most haunting part of “Sicario” – there isn’t hope in the war on drugs and the movie perfectly states it in the final act. In season one of “True Detective,” there’s a great line about time being a flat circle and how we’ll always do the same things. This applies perfectly in the final scene of “Sicario”, demonstrating the war on drugs will never end and will only open more doors for it to continue.
Villeneuve continues to handle moral ambiguity very well and the drug war is a perfect topic to practice this storytelling style with.