Director Denis Villeneuve follows up from his superb 2013 thriller Prisoners with Sicario, a complex crime drama which, like Prisoners, blends black and white firmly into grey!

Emily Blunt stars as FBI Agent Kate Macer, an idealistic and dedicated law enforcer. When tragedy strikes during a kidnapping raid, Kate is signed up by her boss to work with Department of Defense advisor Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), who is working to bring down a Mexican drug cartel boss. Unfortunatly for Kate, she soon begins to suspect that her teammates, including Matt’s partner Alejandro (Benicio del Toro), are keeping secrets from her and playing by their own rules. Rules she believes are highly unethical.

Sicario Review

The tension the director creates here is dynamite stuff! All the major action set pieces are built up with the aid of big wide shots, imposing scenery and unsettling music, imbuing the film with a sense of scale one wouldn’t expect from a seedy crime drama. The drama itself is intense, resulting in amazing performances from all concerned, especially Emily Blunt, who gives her character a real sense of both vulnerability and capability. Benicio del Toro, meanwhile, provides a quiet and intimidating air of menace, and yet remains intriguing and oddly likable.

The film is not just a simple ‘Us vs Them’ cop picture though. The narrative frequently shifts its focus to that of Mexican police officer Silvio, a man with a strong relationship with his wife and young son, who has become embroiled in the illegal work of the Cartels. This additional element of the story serves the film well, adding extra layers and giving it another personal, human element with which to steal our sympathies. When events conspire to connect the parallel story-lines of the investigators and Silvio, it leads to heartbreaking moments which truly test the loyalties of the audience.

Sicario Review

Sicario is one of those rare crime dramas that keeps you guessing right to the end. When the final big payoff comes, it’s genuinely surprising, and leads to an intense scene set around a dinner table, one which had this viewer on the edge of his seat! That, and the final emotional coda, finally reveal just what everything up till now has been about, in a fashion that is reserved and extremely smart.