Blunt truth of war on drugs

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

Ev­ery once in a while a movie just grabs you and, from the mo­ment you leave the cin­ema, you can’t wait to see it again. Si­cario is one such film.

Cana­dian De­nis Vil­leneuve’s (Pris­on­ers, En­emy) tour de force fo­cuses on the war on drugs at the bor­der area be­tween Amer­ica and Mexico through the eyes of ide­al­is­tic FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt).

Start­ing as it means to go on, a jaw-drop­ping open­ing sees a grisly find be­hind the walls of a house and head­strong ar­rest­ing of­fi­cers throw­ing up the con­tents of their lunch.

Si­cario is not an easy watch as Vil­leneuve and de­but writer Tay­lor Sheri­dan refuse to sug­ar­coat the trou­bling sub­ject mat­ter.

More stark im­agery fol­lows and murky mo­rals colour cer­tain char­ac­ters in more than 50 shades of grey as the so-called good guys use tor­ture and in­tim­i­da­tion to get what they want.

Only Kate and friend and col­league Reg­gie (Daniel Kalu­uya) at­tempt to stay on the cor­rect side of right and wrong – but nor­mally to no avail.

Blunt is the au­di­ence’s eyes and ears as she’s led on a haunting two-hour jour­ney. The Lon­doner is no stranger to strong roles and this is one of her finest, most de­mand­ing turns yet.

Kate is vir­tu­ally the only woman on show but is af­forded lit­tle ap­pre­ci­a­tion and un­der­stand­ing as she is put through men­tal and phys­i­cal hell. It’s no won­der she works her way through pack­ets of cig­a­rettes.

Beni­cio Del Toro is in top form as mys­te­ri­ous con­sul­tant Ale­jan­dro. Ini­tially stand-off­ish and near-mute, he de­vel­ops into the film’s most mem­o­rable char­ac­ter and is ab­so­lutely phe­nom­e­nal in nerve-shred­ding lat­ter scenes.

Josh Brolin’s (Matt Graver) eva­sive, loose and cocky lead agent brings a lit­tle bit of lev­ity as a de­lib­er­ately an­noy­ing pres­ence – es­pe­cially to Kate – and Jon Bern­thal (Ted), Vic­tor Gar­ber (Dave) and Jeffrey Dono­van (Steve) make the most of their lim­ited screen time.

In what is of­ten a di­a­logue-heavy movie, Vil­leneuve makes sure he packs a punch with his vis­ual style be­hind the cam­era.

Stun­ning bird’s-eye views show the ground be­low as vast and, at times, mon­strous, with craters look­ing like they’re bar­ing their teeth. A lit­eral storm brews late on and a Zero Dark Thirty-style raid is beau­ti­fully filmed us­ing sil­hou­ettes and night and ther­mal vi­sion. Roger Deakins’s cin­e­matog­ra­phy is crammed with lus­cious land­scapes and a throb­bing, hyp­notic score from Jo­hann Jo­hanns­son matches the film’s edge and bru­tal­ity step for step.

Vil­leneuve knows his stuff when it comes to ac­tion set pieces too. Wit­ness an edgy free­way scene that ends in a stark show of force and what comes of a wrist­band be­ing dropped onto a ta­ble.

From the first scene to the last, Si­cario is a supreme ex­er­cise in ten­sion that rates as not only Vil­leneuve’s best work yet but one of the year’s finest flicks.

Test­ing times Emily Blunt’s FBI agent leads the way in Si­cario

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