Four out of Five kernels
“Sicario” hits the audience at every turn with perfection. And nothing gets missed along the way.
It starts out with a fairly basic format: Kate (Emily Blunt) is a by-the-book FBI agent, who is very good at her job. So good, she catches the eye of Matt (Josh Brolin), who is organizing a team to go after the higher-ups in the drug cartel world.
The problem arises when Kate finds that Matt and his “adviser,” Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), are so far off the books that they don’t even know where the book is. Kate finds herself in way over her head, and that head is also in danger.
Director Denis Villeneuve knows how to make “Sicario” a thriller in every sense of the word. Every time you think you’ve figured something out, it throws another curve at you. It doesn’t hold your hand, explaining everything in a big board room meeting. It throws you in, and it’s either sink or swim.
Villeneuve has mastered the way to provide intense action that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but not putting all its weight on lots of action scenes. It balances out between a twist-and-turn plot, action and character.
And what an incredible lead character. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a character quite like Kate in film before. What makes her stand out is how she presents herself. And Blunt is a big part of that. She doesn’t have much dialogue. She is quiet: Most of her lines are spoken just above a whisper. But she doesn’t have to say much to let the audience know what she’s thinking. There’s no deep, emotional scene where her character bares her soul. But that doesn’t mean her character is emotionless, it’s just her main emotion is fear, and viewers will spend most of the time fearing for her.
The film certainly doesn’t shy away from the more gruesome aspects of the drug trade. There is blood, gore, explosions and dead bodies. It’s not pleasant, but it gives you a slap in the face that says, “We’re not making this up, it’s real.”
The tension and violence is expertly shown through the film’s cinematography. You feel like you’re in on the action by the way the camera moves with the characters. It also tells the story through the lens of security cameras, night-vision, thermal vision — all giving a unique point-of-view.
If “Sicario” doesn’t end up with a few Oscar nominations then there is even more injustice in the world. It’s a film that hits the mark with everything and then some. You’ll walk out of the theater probably a little dazed and confused, but wanting more. And if you want more, check out Villeneuve’s other film, “Prisoners.”