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“Sicario”: An anxiety-inducing thriller

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By Russell Oliver

The cast of "Sicario" at the Cannes Film Festival. (Source: Georges Biard, Wikimedia.org)
The cast of “Sicario” at the Cannes Film Festival. (Source: Georges Biard, Wikimedia.org)

   A kidnapping raid on a house by the FBI in Arizona goes horribly awry. Guns are fired left and right as the FBI assaults the criminals in the house. A bullet hole in the wall reveals dozens of bodies hidden within the house itself. A bomb discovered in the back shed explodes, killing two officers. These are the opening moments of “Sicario.”

   “Sicario” is a crime thriller directed by Denis Villeneuve, penned by Taylor Sheridan, and produced by Lionsgate. The film stars Emily Blunt as Kate Macer, an FBI Special Weapons and Tactics Team agent. It also stars Josh Brolin as CIA officer Matt Graver and Benicio del Toro as his partner Alejandro Gillick, who has a dubious past.

   The film’s plot revolves around Macer volunteering for a team of Delta Force operators to help in the intensifying war against drugs. The path Macer takes on this task force soon has her questioning her the morals of both herself and those around her as she fully realizes the violence and corruption of the cartels. When Macer asks the task force leader Graver what their mission is, he calmly replies, “to dramatically overreact.”

   Blunt shines in the star role portraying Macer as a serious and driven officer who is thrown into a crazy criminal world that she struggles to survive in. Del Toro is equally as talented, portraying his character Gillick as a mysterious and unsettling member of the task force. His dark past is slowly unwound as the film moves forward.

   “Blunt and Del Toro transcend this with superbly nuanced performances. Her straight-arrow-sharp determination becomes painfully dulled,” Dan Jolin, a blogger for Empire.com, said. “He is an exhausted monster, somehow inviting sympathy while noxiously radiating danger.”

   The film, while great, is very graphic at times. Taking place along the lawless stretch of borders between the U.S. and Mexico, the movie doesn’t hold back in showing the atrocities of the cartel. There is plenty of upsetting images and bloody violence that can make ones stomach turn.

   The film portrays the Mexican drug trade in all of its gruesome glory. “Sicario” has many action set pieces along with intense dialogue that makes for some truly nail-biting scenes. It keeps you guessing about Macer’s role in this task force and the motives of those around her, especially Gillick’s.

   The direction focuses on the gritty aspects of the drug world and the film’s tense screenplay is full of twist and turns. The final moments of the film has a jaw-dropping scene with del Toro’s character that ties all the films mysterious pieces neatly together.

   Lionsgate revealed in a press release that a sequel of “Sicario” has been commissioned, with Sheridan returning to write it. Villeneuve is also involved in an undisclosed role as well. The sequel will be centered on the character of Alejandro Gillick, with del Toro returning for the role.

   Blunt admitted in an interview with GQ that the director was pressured to recast a male in her role. She admitted that the studio had offered Villeneuve a bigger budget if he recast, as they believed a male in the role would lead to a higher box office income.

   “Women have proven themselves time and time again to be worthy of box offices and worthy of three-dimensional characters and stories,” Blunt said during the interview.Thankfully, the role wasn’t recast and Blunt was able to show off how much of a badass she can be.

   “Sicario” was released nationwide on Oct. 2 and is in theatres now.

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