Sicario (7/10)


The deeper you go, the darker it gets.


A young female FBI agent joins a secret CIA operation to take down a Mexican cartel boss, a job that ends up pushing her ethical and moral values to the limit.

Title Sicario
Director Denis Villeneuve
Director of Photography Roger Deakins
Runtime 2 h 01 min
Certification R
Release Date 17 September 2015
Tagline The deeper you go, the darker it gets.
IMDb Id tt3397884

The background to Sicario’s story is the premise that the war on drugs cannot be won by playing by the rules. Or even that the war on drugs cannot be won at all, as it it has become a self-defeating prophecy: an endless war with drug lords pursuing ever more creative ways of  going underground and at the same time embracing ever more violent ways to achieve their goals. Trying to get some kind of control back over this is not for the weak.

A relatively inexperienced FBI agent Kate (Emily Blunt) is invited to join a cross-agency operation to take on a Mexican drug lord. This operation is led by a CIA agent Matt (Josh Brolin) and they are assisted by independent advisor Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) who has experience with the cartel in question.

As viewer, our viewpoint is initially that of Emily Blunt’s character, and we understand as little of what is going on as Kate does. This approach works well to keep you guessing, both in terms of what is going on, and in terms of what Kate’s role is or should be in all of this. We meet Kate as a strongwilled, independent woman with a strong sense of justice, be it by playing by the rules. As more details of the operation she finds herself in get exposed, she struggles with the questions whether the end justifies the means.

The atmosphere of the movie is great – the photography is excellent, both in the framing and colour palettes used, and the use of a number of long shots is very strong, especially in a genre which is still slowly fighting its way out of a couple of decades of overly fast cuts and the incredibly annoying shaky-cam school of photography. The imagery is beautifully supported by a simple yet powerful score that thumps tension into the cinema throughout.

It is a good movie, with a great cinematic experience in terms of cinematography and score, yet the script weakens towards the end and leaves you wishing it had been just a bit stronger in its last half hour. Shifting the focus from Kate to Alejandro weakens the role of the strong female lead, along with her resolve. Shame.


Sicario (7/10)
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