Review: Gritty Sicario Hits Home
“Sicario” exhibits big promise to this well-acted, but somewhat emotionless action extravaganza.
The border is just another line to cross.
When Emily Blunt’s Kate Mercer, an idealistic FBI agent, is recruited by a semi-covert cross organization government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico, Mercer quickly finds herself entangled in a secretive web of illegal means and excessive force.
While “Sicario” delivers big action, unforgettably hyper violent images, and nuanced performances, the cloyingly brutal cartel thriller leaves little premise and character development to make the audience invested in the well being of the main character. While entertaining on a whole, the brilliantly bold action film suffers in the third act as it stumbles over a somewhat anti-climactic resolution strewn across a borderline gratuitously crimson backdrop.
Cinematics (Plot, Cinematography, Acting, etc.) – 4
At the forefront of this full length action crime drama feature is the visceral Juarez drug trade and stiflingly macabre commentary on the deteriorating violent state of US/Mexico border relations.
French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, the force behind the hit International thriller “Prisoners,” brings American audiences a gripping action commentary on the Drug War and it’s wanton disregard for rule of law and value of human life on both sides of the fence. While I would suggest that Taylor Sheridan could have better handled the Kate Mercer character by adding some elements to endear the audience, I feel that Villeneuve aptly captured the hyper violent and tumultuous element of the cartel-centric premise.
Emily Blunt is no stranger to a good action flick given past success alongside Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow” and even being an internet fan favorite to play the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Captain Marvel (a hope which according to recent reports will likely go unfulfilled). While Blunt’s Mercer opens the film as a powerful FBI team leader and no-bullsh*t type of idealist, the hurried cinematic pace and big action elements devolves Blunt’s character to an afterthought by the third act. While Blunt provided audiences an ample mix of emotion and stoicism, her character feels abandoned by the script part way through the film.
One character who was far from being abandoned was Benicio Del Toro’s abrasively intense Alejandro. Del Toro provided a hands on and brilliant performance as a seasoned Sicario, bringing a level of action and intensity I haven’t seen since Del Toro played alongside Tommy Lee Jones in “The Hunted.” Another notable performance was delivered by Josh Brolin as the intellectually indomitable spook Matt Graver. The dynamic between Del Toro and Brolin is brilliant, presenting audiences with two very unique and highly-nuanced and entertaining characters. Brolin’s particularly brash manipulator provides a hearty dose of subtle comic relief, while never departing from the suspenseful and acerbic core story. Without spoiling any cinematic treats, Jon Bernthal’s character definitely delights. Plain and simple.
Entertainment Value – 3.5
Welcome to Juarez.
While undoubtably entertaining, the level of suspense provided by the film was damaged by the lack of investment developed for Blunt’s character. Although this mis-step made for a dampened climax, that is not to say the film as a whole was not visually stunning and uniquely decorated with body stacking action elements. “Sicario” pulls audiences, tooth and nail, through a world where human life has little value respective to the drug empire that both subsidizes and terrorizes the small Mexican town of Juarez.
Re-Watchability – 3
While thrilling the first time around, the linear storyline leaves little to return to after all the cinematic twists and turns are revealed. While one might throw this in when in he mood for a quick gun fight or to see Del Toro and Brolin really shine, the blisteringly acerbic tone of the film loses it’s heft after the initial shock wears off.
Watch the official trailer for “Sicario” below!
SICARIO is presented by Black Label Media, Lions Gate Films and Thunder Road Pictures.
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, VIctor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Jeffery Donovan, Raol Trujillo, Julio Cedillo, Bernardo P. Saracino and Maximilino Hernandez.
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 121 Minutes
In theaters nationwide starting October 2, 2015.
In the category of action crime drama, I give “SICARIO” 3.5 out of 5 piles of blood money.
Although it makes a few mis-steps, “Sicario” is a well fabricated, beautifully shot and well-acted action crime drama filled with suspense, intrigue and ample doses of gunfire.