Sicario Movie Review
Riveting in all the right ways, Sicario is a tense, thrilling action-drama about the blurry line between the good, the bad and the ugly. Featuring a mind-blowing score and stellar acting, Sicario is an engrossing piece of work, marred only by a slow middle act.
Emily Blunt stars as FBI agent Kate Macer, who stumbles across a heinous murder scene tied to a Mexican drug cartel. She is soon recruited to a joint task force to take down the cartel, but the separation between the good guys and the bad ones becomes increasingly narrow.
Denis Villeneuve, who made the fantastic Prisoners and alluring Enemy, has another winner on his hands: Sicario is like a violent lullaby at times, Villeneuve using the bleak wastelands of the U.S./Mexico border as a backdrop to the unflinching story he tells. From its first second Sicario beats with rare intensity, and almost immediately you can tell he isn't sugarcoating anything.
The movie benefits greatly from the growling score by Jóhann Jóhannsson, which bleeds through every pore of the film. When Sicario is silent for stretches of time you grow to miss the steady, grinding hum; the movie suffers when the score is absent.
The acting is top notch, with Benicio Del Toro delivering his finest performance in years. He's spot-on as a nebulous killer-for-hire, bringing impressive nuance to a role that usually wouldn't be nuanced. Josh Brolin is also at the top of his game, though his character becomes less interesting as the film goes along. As for Emily Blunt, she does a great job with the character she's given.
Too bad her character sort of sucks.
Even though she's the lead, Blunt is given very little to do. Her character serves more as the vessel to guide the audience through the murky world Villeneuve has put to screen, but does nothing more than whine and do stupid things. After a while, it's hard to imagine her task force buddies putting up with her--I barely could.
Sicario loses a bit of steam in the middle act, though the first half hour is so impressive it was all but inevitable. Still, a few scenes could have been tightened for the sake of pacing.
Thankfully, the movie makes up for it with a stellar ending.
Sicario isn't perfect, but it's among the year's best nonetheless. Exciting, intoxicating and at times brutally intense, it is one of the most visceral movies you'll experience all year.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.