Emily Blunt plays Kate Macer, an FBI agent who is given the chance to join a Delta Force team lead by Department of Defence advisor Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) who are searching for the drug cartel responsible for a house full of corpses and an Improvised Explosive Device that Blunt’s team stumble on in the opening salvo.
However Macer is kept in the dark as to exactly how the mission is to play out and her role in it. She also can’t get any straight answers as to who exactly the Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) is; and she baulks at the moral grey area in which the team operate as they act outside of procedure and jurisdiction and Graver seems to have no issues with possible civilian causalities in the pursuit of the Mexican drug cartel. Sicario is a film which asks how far it’s acceptable to go to bring criminals to justice and what sacrifices are acceptable for the greater good. It makes a point of showing how large the war against the drug trade is and how widespread and endemic the effects.
Like the audience, Macer is in this macho environment as an outsider and we follow the story back-and-forth across the US-Mexico border though her eyes. Blunt is a fantastic lead, believable as an idealistic survivor in this tough world but warm enough to be likeable. Del Toro is equally excellent, appearing at key times, emanating danger and menace despite remaining detached and calm.
The action ranges from a shootout in a traffic jam, an expertly choreographed, structured and captured convoy and a night raid into an illegal tunnel and all are exciting, tense and feel entirely real, as if you are a bystander in the engagement.
The Verdict: Sicario is a case of director, cast and cinematographer (Roger Deakins) raising the quality of what might have otherwise been merely a decent action thriller; but they’re raised it to be one of the very best thrillers of the year. At times it might fully test your endurance as Sicario is very bleak and very deliberately paced; but it is a smart, beautifully shot, graceful and visceral film.