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Sugar House Journal

Dan's Review: Despite unpleasant subject, "Sicario" is a well-crafted film

Oct 04, 2015 16h51 ● By Dan Metcalf

Emily Blunt in Sicario - © 2015 Lionsgate.

Sicario (Lionsgate)

Rated R for strong violence, grisly images, and language.

Starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Jeffrey Donovan, Raoul Trujillo, Julio Cedillo, Hank Rogerson, Bernardo P. Saracino, Maximiliano Hernández.

Written by Taylor Sheridan.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve.



The “war” on drugs is almost a cliché by now. It’s been raging for years, with no end in sight, no borders to invade and no garrisons to capture. The casualties are legion, with lives erased or otherwise left in ruins. It’s a dark cloud over most of the earth, attracting the greedy, the desperate and the vengeful. Sicario is a movie about the culture of law enforcement in and around the U.S./Mexico border, where drug cartels rule.

Emily Blunt stars as FBI agent Kate Mercer, who discovers several bodies hidden inside walls of an Arizona home during a raid. Following the grisly find, she is recruited by the Department of Defense to join a task force in search of a cartel leader. The DOD agent in charge is Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), a casual, gruff fellow who seems to enjoy inflicting harm on drug lords and their minions. Joining Graver is a mysterious man named Alejandro (Benicio del Toro). The DOD team’s first mission is to retrieve an informant in Juarez, who is captured and brought to the U.S. for interrogation concerning the whereabouts of Diaz, a cartel leader. Another mission takes place, but Kate soon learns that Alejandro might not be one of the good guys.

Sicario (a Spanish word for “hitman”) is a movie that is as dark and depressing as the war on drugs itself, complete with a sense of frustration and overwhelming obstacles of money and brutal violence.  Despite these dismal themes, Sicario is an excellent film that captures the essence of evil and the hopeless fight against it.

Visually, Sicario is stunning, with images provided by the masterful cinematographer Roger Deakins – who once again establishes compelling landscapes that perfectly capture the film’s themes.

Emily Blunt is also masterful in her portrayal of a peace officer trying to make sense of the evil she wants to defeat. Other cast members are equally brilliant, including del Toro and Brolin.

Sicario is rated R for a good reason. There are several grisly images of dead bodies, murder and torture. If these sorts of things offend you, please take note.  Again, it isn’t a movie that will make anyone feel good about the war on drugs, but it does provide an accurate depiction of a persistent, awful reality within our culture.

Sicario Trailer