Opening 1 Oct 2015
Writing credits: Taylor Sheridan
Principal actors: Emily Blunt, Jon Bernthal, Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro, Jeffrey Donovan
In Spanish, sicario means hired assassin, and the colloquial is hitman. News reports increasingly cover Mexico’s brutal battle with unscrupulous drug cartels whose only allegiance is to profit, and the USA guarantees high returns. In director Denis Villeneuve’s film, Sicario means bringing digestible authenticity to the screen. Narrative parameters are that a somewhat idealistic law enforcement officer scrutinizes personal ethics as a cross-border, inter-agency operation progresses.
FBI agent Kate Macer (Blunt) heads a squad in Arizona. After a fierce encounter, she is chosen for a joint corps d'elite task force because, according to her boss (Garber), of her tactical experience. But upon meeting key team members, feelings of flattery shift to perplexity. Running the operation is an ambiguous, imperturbable C.I.A. operative (Brolin) with an illusive, lethal and mysterious sidekick (Del Toro) who, she learns, is not even American. The target – a local drug kingpin; their ultimate goal – a Mexican drug cartel lord. A preliminary foray into Juarez, Mexico adds to her bewilderment. Subsequently, Kate’s partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya) joins them, adding credence to her misgivings. As the action kicks into high gear, indomitable Kate finds herself in a calamitous position with an unlikely, yet questionable ally.
Taylor Sheridan’s tight, gripping screenplay comes to life with its fantastic, international cast under Villeneuve’s direction, and Roger Deakins’ brilliant cinematography. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s music works in tandem with praiseworthy sound design that Joe Walker forcefully edits. Nebulous cut-a-ways to a Mexican policeman (Maximiliano Hernández) do ultimately become clear within the storyline. Albeit popcorn and a big-screen separate us, Sicario is a hair-raising excursion into an unthinkable-for-most reality. Cannes Film Festival deservedly selected it to compete for the 2015 Palme d'Or. (Marinell Haegelin)