After witnessing Prisoners & Enemy, Denis Villeneuve had caught my eye and I was ready for whatever project he came up with next. Sicario could possibly be his best film and I know Villeneuve has a lot more left in the tank. He’s one of the best rising film makers in Hollywood and if he keeps doing the same great work he’s already doing, he’ll have his named marked in the books. I was very excited for Sicario and usually when the bar is set so high, you’re always disappointed no matter how good the end product was. Thankfully Sicario left me feeling satisfied.
Sicario is a film built on tension & suspense. It’s moderately paced and not action packed but from the first 5 minutes you can get a feel of what kind of movie it’s going to be. Sicario does have an interesting plot but I think the plot isn’t even the film’s biggest strength. Its the characters, the mystery and Villeneuve’s direction. Adding to the film is Jóhann Jóhannsson’s heart pounding score which I would say is another huge star of the movie. Jóhann Jóhannsson tends make great melodic scores. I even thought Prisoners had a great melodic score but Sicario is much more noise and I loved it. As the film gets more tense so does the score. Think back to old horror scores or even Jaws. Some brilliant work.
There’s about 3-5 action scenes in the movie and while it could have benefitted from more, it was an okay decision. Because I haven’t seen a movie in a long time where I felt no character was safe. Sicario kind of feels like a documentary that’s aided by Roger Deakin’s beautiful imagery which I will not even talk about. You have to see it to believe how gorgeous & creative it was. There’s a reason why this man is considered to be one of the greatest if not greatest cinematographer alive. Back to the documentary statement on Sicario, it’s not a mockumentary or anything close. Emily Blunt’s Claire is the the audience & we are thrown into this world just like her. We are exposed to the corruption and darkness of the world. One of my quarrels with the movie was I felt Claire never had a strong story arc, she doesn’t have her own strong journey & her decisions could be aggravating, but the nativity works. The audience has an idea things will be bad but won’t realize how atrocious things are till the very end. I felt Claire exemplified that very well and why I thought she was the proper protagonist for the movie. Thank god the studio didn’t get their wish of getting a male lead because Emily Blunt was perfect. It isn’t a loud performance, it’s very subtle but like I said, Claire is a character that’s being corrupted by the flawed justice system & Emily Blunt does a perfect stellar job of portraying that. It’s not an easy feat. Also I have to admire the fact that not once does Emily Blunt get nude. In a world where it's hard to find respectful female roles or where nudity is encouraged to prove you're a mature actor or actress, it's good to see Blunt prove that you don't need to take off your clothes or play a cliched oscar bait role to be considered a great actor. I admire her a lot for that.
It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention everyone else in the cast because the entire cast was stellar. Even the cameos were great. Josh Brolin plays the perfect sleaze bag and I couldn’t think of anyone better to play the role then him. I’m not even a huge Brolin fan but man did he do a great job. The true star of this movie I felt was Benicio Del Toro. As a kid I used to think Del Toro was one of the greatest actors ever but as time went by I kind of forgot about him due to terrible film choices but Sicario is a reminder he’s still one of the best. Del Toro’s Alejandro is easily the most interesting character in the movie but he’s also the most mysterious & when you find out the truth about his character, you’re just in awe. It’s insane how he plays this character. From the beginning you know there is something off with him, from his mannerisms, to his eyes to his body movements and it all makes sense in the end. Directing an actor get the actor so far, but Del Toro takes his character further. To quote Del Toro, "You're only as good as the movie.” In this instance, it’s perfectly true. Think of Alejandro as a twisted version of his Benicio’s character in Traffic. I think Alejandro stands toe to toe with another classic Villeneuve character, Detective Loki. I can’t wait to see what Villeneuve crafts for Ryan Gosling’s protagonist in the Blade Runner sequel.
Sicario is a really well paced film that may be a tad bit slow at times but it works out in the end. The climax is pure finesse and makes up for the entire movie. There’s one segment of a child & father that pops out throughout the film that I felt was unnecessary. I get the point (I have to be vague as to not ruin it for you) but it just didn’t need to be in there. It feels irrelevant to the plot of the movie. I understand the significance but it could have been done differently. I would have taken those scenes and made them flashbacks of Alejandro’s life, that would have worked a lot better. Even though Sicario has its flaws it does so much right. It was entertaining from start to finish, the characters were all interesting & for an ugly & unsettling film it’s really beautiful. One of things I had myself asking is at the end was “is this something I’d watch again?” And the answer is yes, there’s a lot of questions & discussion points the movie leaves. While the commentary of the cruel cartel world is there, the main concern with Sicario is human morality. When does something become right and when does something become wrong? Sicario is a cynical dark movie but it’s one of the most thought provoking movies I’ve seen in a long time.
Fun Fact: Benicio Del Toro & Emily Blunt were love interests in The Wolfman (2010) and in this, Del Toro is more of a fatherly figure to Blunt. Talk about awkward...