Starring Emily Blunt, Benico Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Jon Bernthal, Victor Garber,
French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve caught my undivided attention with his thriller “Prisoners” (2013), portraying one of the darkest kidnapping scenarios in recent memory. Villeneuve explores even darker subject matter in his latest suspense thriller “Sicario” (meaning hitman in Mexico), that will make pudding out of any 2015 horror film. Its closest companion would be “Traffic”, ironically the film that earned Del Toro his Academy Award. Oscar buzz is already building for Emily Blunt, who easily gives the performance of her career as a federal agent intentionally left in the dark about her mission and her role in it.
FBI agent Kate Macer (Blunt) leads a special task force dealing with violent drug criminals in Arizona. “She has been kicking down doors since day one,” her commanding officer says when Macer is tapped to join a secret joint operation that will go after one of Mexico’s most powerful drug lords. When she asks about the mission Agent-in-Charge Matt Graver (Brolin) responds vaguely saying, “to continue to clean up the mess or stop those responsible.” Macer isn’t getting all the information as she fly’s with Matt to El Paso, where they cross the border with another mysterious man Alejandro (Del Toro). She finds herself is a dangerous situation that doesn’t fit the boundaries of her job or the law. “The boundaries have been moved,” she is told. “The objective is to dramatically overreact.”
The return border crossing sequence is one of the most memorable and tense scenes in recent memory.
Villeneuve uses the same terrific team that helped make “Prisoners” so vividly disturbing and cinematically arresting. Roger Deakins brings his masterful images to “Sicario,” never as memorable as during as scene shot at dusk where the invading unit is silhouetted in darkness. Arial shots of Juarez, Mexico adds to the visualization of the film’s many pulse pounding operations. However, it’s the distressing and unnerving score by Jóhann Jóhannsson that really keeps the viewer on edge. The return border crossing sequence is one of the most memorable and tense scenes in recent memory. Blunt’s character at this point early in the film is still informationally in the dark, as is the audience, similar to the situation Jodie Foster finds herself in at the beginning of “Silence of the Lambs”.
“Sicario” rips away a curtain between the US and Mexican government’s relationship towards drug cartels, breaking international laws for the greater good. Emily Blunt who burst onto the Hollywood scene in the “The Devil Wears Prada,” has ferociously built a resume that showcases her abilities in every genre, even stealing the thunder from Tom Cruise in action flick “Edge of Tomorrow”.
Here Blunt showcases her strongest and most vital on screen performance to date. Mercer is equal parts resilient and vulnerable but refuses to lose sight of her moral compass. Del Toro, who already gave a devastating performance as Pablo Escobar earlier in the year, once again excels in such riveting brutal subject matter. “Sicario” is easily one of the best films of 2015, it’s impression on the viewer lasts long after the credits and might even find you leaving indentions in your theater chair.
Scarier than any horror movie. Blunt gives an Oscar worthy performance.