Descent into chaos
Director: Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) Starring: Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Donovan
IN Sicario, we have one of the best films of the year hitting us right between the eyes. So brace yourself for what is a minor masterpiece about one of the major issues of our time – the war on drugs.
Director Denis Villeneuve takes us to where he believes the height of the fighting is at its most intense.
The battle zone is a small crosssection of the border where the US state of Texas meets the nation of Mexico.
As has been the case for decades, major Mexican drug cartels can move their illicit merch into the US at will.
Bringing the proceeds back home is almost as easy. Uncle Sam’s best and brightest are at a complete loss as to how to stem the tide in either direction. Doing it “by the book” has clearly never worked.
According to Sicario, doing it “off the books” might be the only viable option America has left for getting a clear shot at a constantly shape-changing enemy. This very accomplished, expertly written and acted drama drives home its point in subtle, yet forceful fashion.
Our sole vantage point as we peer into a dangerous shadow world of intrigue and insurgency is the one innocent character in this tale.
Kate (Emily Blunt) is a low-level FBI door-buster who has been recruited to join an unnamed US government task force about to begin a black-ops assignment on Mexican soil.
The prime objective of the mission is withheld from Kate by her two principal liaisons on this mysteriously well-resourced new team.
Matt (Josh Brolin) has clearly done some time on the dark side of the CIA. He speaks only in a coded combo of need-to-know intel and track-covering double-talk.
All that is known of Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) is he is some kind of connected “consultant” with a clean grasp of how the Mexicans do their dirty work. He’s no straight talker, either. “You’re asking me how a watch works,” Alejandro chides an increasingly frustrated Kate. “Just keep an eye on the time.”
Capitalising on the sublime camerawork of Roger Deakins – a brilliant blend of the hand-held and the hardly visible elevates some already-stunning set-piece sequences to a higher level – Sicario casts an intimidating, irreversible spell.