Wednesday 2 March 2016


Sicario, directed by Dennis Villeneuve (director of the newly-announced Blade Runner sequel), follows Kate, played by Emily Blunt, as she moves on from her frontline FBI role to volunteer for an assignment to help against the current drug cartel problem. Alongside the drug enforcement chief, Matt (Josh Brolin) and the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), Kate is thrown into a whole new world where she has no idea what is going on.

There’s a lot of media on the Mexican drug cartel – Narcos, for example, is a graphically intense yet humorous look at the life of Pablo Escobar, and Breaking Bad showcases the subject with a witty script and breath-taking action. Sicario went completely the other way, with a much more introspective take on the situation through Kate’s eyes. Talking doesn’t feature so much in this film, and the action is understated – instead we’re gripped by the beautiful visuals and the stunning use of sound.

Kate, an FBI agent who takes her job very seriously, feels very in the dark about her current mission, and this feeling travels through to the viewer. She knows something is up, but the answers that she’s looking for aren’t provided. Her uneasiness at the start and the rest of her frustration throughout are powerfully conveyed, and make each scene tenser than the last. There’s rarely a moment when we’re given more information, and so we end up feeling just as frustrated as Kate does. This works though – the plot isn’t particularly dramatic or full of twists, and so this is a clever way of keeping eyes glued to the screen. 

Blunt, Brolin, and Del Toro all play excellent parts, and I didn’t find one stood out more than the other. Daniel Kaluuya as supporting actor was also very good, although his character didn’t really start to develop until halfway through the film. It was the visuals and the sound that really made the film though – music was scarcely used, instead choosing silence to add the mounting tension to each scene, but when it was used it was perfectly atmospheric. The camera work is thought out and uses lots of alternative shots – my favourite one in particular was using the aerial view of a runway to show a plane taking off. The film was carefully crafted, and clearly a lot of thought had gone into the cinematography.

Sicario fits into one of my favourite film categories – brooding, internalised pieces of art that portray very physical concepts through use of emotions and the senses. It’s definitely not the action film you might expect, but in some ways it makes better viewing. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a film that’s gripping and intelligent (if you’re more Hollywood then maybe stick to Michael Bay). It’s minimalist on all aspects except quality, and exactly the kind of film I’d want to direct.

Sicario gets a much deserved 5/5.


Hannah Read

Sicario at CeX

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