The Closest We’ll get to Cinematic Masterpiece this year?
This film is unlike any other. It’s intelligent, provocative and deeply haunting. Shot and told with expert precision whilst feeding on audience paranoia and helplessness – this is not a film for the faint of heart. There are few films that have been, or that will be, released this year that will end with you leaving the cinema drained and exhausted (in a good way at least…)
Idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) leads a kidnapping raid in Chandler, Arizona that results in a discovery far bigger and much more gruesome than was expected. Her findings cause Kate’s boss (Victor Garber) to recommend her to an elected government task force which has a sole focus of the ever-escalating war against drugs on either side of the US – Mexico border. After a brief interview Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) offers her the position, using her emotional ties to her previous case as reasoning to join his team. His team promises results far greater than those she can achieve in her current position, plus a chance to find and punish those involved in the tragedy she unintentionally unearthed. She accepts immediately. Kate’s FBI partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya) is instantly distrustful of Matt and fearful for his partner’s well-being. Kate squashes his concerns, but when she arrives for her first day of work she realises how little she know and how little Matt will actually want to tell her. The unexplained arrival of mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) furthers these worries, as does their preceding to fly with her to a different destination than the one declared to her and concealing their purpose for being there. Was Reggie right to have been so worried for Kate? Will Kate get to make the difference she wanted to? Will she even make it out alive?
What truly makes this film enter the threshold into ‘great’ is the components that make it so taut, tense and thrilling. The acting is masterful – Blunt is understatedly brilliant as the at-times frustrating but always sympathetic Kate, Brolin’s Matt oozes charm with dark undertones and Del Toro lurks on the outskirts so intriguingly that his gradually revealed character arc is utterly enthralling. The music, and the superbly well-chosen moments when it is absent, frame each sequences with an eerie sense of both danger and inevitability. Not a shot or piece of dialogue is wasted – everything either contributes to the plot or the power of it. Aerial shots revel not in the landscape, but instead reveal the depth of the poverty and crime and the sheer vastness of it.
Where the film builds and retains most of its power is in its message. Whilst easy from trailers and posters to misconstrue as just another social-issue drama or drug-related thriller, Sicario has much more to offer. Few films have tackled the ‘war on drugs’ with such informed perception of the grey area surrounding it. The primary question is of lawlessness – who are the good guys in this war and who can be trusted? Most importantly – when the do the ends stop justifying the means? This is reflected upon in such a spectacularly suspenseful manner; it is rare to find a film that can leave an audience so fantastically haunted.
If you’re looking to spend two-hours in a realm of dread, brutality and nerve-destroying darkness then commit to numb ruminating…you’d best go buy your ticket!