Directed by Denis Villeneuve
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.
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★★★★★ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd
Sicario, not unlike its translation into "hitman", revolves around the act of stealth and the aura of tension it creates. Denis Villeneuve, teaming up again with master DP Roger Deakins, conjures up images of supreme darkness, but the true accomplishment comes not from horror within the now but from the foreboding blare of escalating dread.
It's nothing less than a sublime concoction, but one that decays as soon as familiarity is presented. With Deakins' soul-searing cinematography, Johann Johannsson's heart-exploding score, and Villeneuve's tracking mindset of "firecracker" pops and splattering eruption; Sicario is an experience that will enthrall any fan of artfully presented gloom, but its subtext and interconnected view of political systems will be even harder to shake.
Emily Blunt, "starring" as Kate Macer, isn't so much a protagonist as she is an entrance point into a world of clustered corruption. Her view, as tough, determined, and strong-willed as it is, doesn't even cross paths with a world of fevered revenge. She's looking from the outside in, but instead of peering through a window, Macer has to shoot her way through the walls in order to even catch a glimpse of menace. It's The Silence of the Lambs without a Hannibal Lecter, and it's glorious to dissect.
In spite of its quite radical view on corruption and the law-abiding officers who trudge through the mud, nothing in Sicario sizzles more than Villeneuve's flawless construction of tension. His mastery of visual eeriness is evident from the iconic (in my mind at least) opening sequence, and it allows for sweaty-palmed suspense to appear when it's least expected.
Never has a film kept me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning, but Sicario grabbed my throat and sparingly let me come up for air. In the past, Villeneuve has struggled with the puzzle-piece variations of his plots, but Sicario proves that visionaries stem from every area of the cinematic landscape. It's a modern classic from a genuine talent.
★★★★ review by Matt Singer on Letterboxd
Remember the scene in BOOGIE NIGHTS where Alfred Molina is randomly tossing firecrackers at Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly? SICARIO is like that scene for two straight hours with no “Sister Christian.” It is intense.
TIFF '15 Review #2: screencrush.com/sicario-review-tiff/
★★★★★ review by bree1981 on Letterboxd
This was absolutely epic, a lot better than I was expecting it to be, I was all set to give it 4 and a half stars then I thought, what could it have actually done any better? The answer I came to was nothing, from the first scene to the last this is a white knuckle ride full of tension and suspense, there were a few scenes where I was actually holding my breath.
Emily Blunt stars as Kate Macer, the leader of a FBI team kicking down doors in Phoenix, Arizona fighting a loosing battle against the ever expanding Mexican drug cartel's when she is manipulated into volunteering for a shadowy government task force lead by Josh Brolin's cocksure Matt Graver alongside the mysterious Alejandro (a never better Benicio del Toro).
Blunt is the beating heart of this film, showing both a steely determination as well as crippling vulnerability she's as much in the dark as we are for most of the runtime, only learning details of her new role in drips and drabs when her superiors deem it necessary, she knows she is being used but is not sure to what extent. She's matched all the way by her co-stars Brolin and Del Toro in what is a magnificently acted movie full of standout scenes (the drive out of Juarez is an absolute masterclass in how to build palpable tension). Intelligently scripted by Taylor Sheridan (Sheriff Hale from Sons Of Anarchy) in what is amazingly his first script, the film also looks spectacular with Roger Deakins cinematography capturing the wide open desert vistas as well as the grim tangled streets of Mexico where trouble could be hiding behind any corner.
Overall, this should join the likes of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty as one of the greatest war films of the modern era, the only difference here is the war is fought on America's doorstep. I honestly can't recommend this film enough, stop reading my overly gushing review an go and see it.
★★★★★ review by gabriel guimarães on Letterboxd
The best episode of Narcos I have ever seen.
★★★★½ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd
The Police Officer subplot fails tremendously on a rewatch, mainly because Villeneuve only glances back at it when necessary, leading to a supposedly heart-wrenching conclusion that feels resoundingly false in the grand scheme of the narrative. Everything else, however, works like gangbusters. A sickly cinematic experience that surrounds the viewer in blackness before sending them right into the thick of it. Its eerie mood, showcasing a continuous contrast between horror and sunny dustiness, is petrifying from the first image of a SWAT unit lumbering in plain sight along a landscape of cul-de-sacs, leading to countless set-piece explosions of tension. Heart-stopping cinema.
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