Hello loyal readers, I’d first like to apologise for being MIA for the last month but I’ve been on holiday back home in Ireland. The trip was an attempt to rediscover my roots and learn a little of the history of my home country. This consisted of watching all six Leprechaun movies (I refuse to include Leprechaun Origins in that group, but I watched that too in case you’re wondering) so there may be a feature on that coming soon. However I’m back now and the first review of this post-Leprechaun Screenkicker is the serious drama Sicario in which Emily Blunt hunts for a mysterious magical pot of gold on the Mexican border. I’m very confused.
Sicario (which is the word in Mexico for ‘hitman’ or ‘assassin’) is actually a film about the US war on drugs in which SWAT team leader Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is recruited into a shady group of law enforcement officials operating on the US-Mexican border. After a frightening trip to Juarez to pick up a cartel suspect Macer has more questions than answers. What exactly is her role in this team? Is this operation legal? And who is the mysterious stranger (Benicio Del Toro) who hangs around giving her advice?
These are all questions that are answered slowly as the movie is all about mood. It’s essentially a modern-day adaptation of Heart of Darkness as Macer is gradually dragged deeper down into the muddy ethics of a war that’s only victims appear to be ordinary people. Director Denis Villeneuve’s (Prisoners) subtle uses of symbolism is excellent throughout culminating in a scene filmed at sunset where we see the characters literally descending into darkness. However if there’s one feeling Sicario portrays perfectly it’s that of dread. There are long dialogue free sequences that are nail-bitingly tense such as the first trip into Juarez and a thrilling pitch-black underground military operation.
Sicario is beautifully filmed by Villeneuve and director of photography Roger Deakins. High up shots of the border area’s topography gives a sense of the huge amount of land that requires policing in the fight against drug cartels. The use of light, or should I say darkness is the defining aesthetic of the film as it seems to seep into both the central characters and the audience as the movie progresses.
The cast is uniformly excellent in very different roles. Benicio Del Toro is frightening yet magnetic, Josh Brolin portrays the type of charming sociopath you suspect heads up these operations, yet it’s Emily Blunt that’s the centre of all of this. Her character is tough yet vulnerable, committed to the cause but also with a strong moral sense of justice. It’s in watching how the other characters deal with her that they reveal their true selves and the truth slowly becomes apparent.
Sicario isn’t the action film from the trailers. Instead its a meditation on how far we should go in our pursuit of justice. It’s the old Nietzsche’s thing of us becoming the monsters we set out to hunt. Will Kate Macer lose her principles and be corrupted by the mission goals? Is the war on drugs a pointless, unwinnable conflict? And will she catch and kill that evil little Leprechaun? OK, I think I’m becoming confused again so I’ll sum it up – Sicario is a very good film and it comes highly recommended.
Did you find him? If you did you win a trip across the US-Mexican border with these bags of mysterious white powder I’ve slipped into your luggage. Have fun!
Screenkicker Hitmen Index (SHI)