“Sicario” | Movie Review

Grade (A)

A gritty, realistic peek inside the dangerous and seedy world of the drug trafficking war between the U.S./Mexico Border.


An FBI agent agrees to join a government task force she knows little about to assist in the war against drug trafficking between the U.S./Mexico border and soon learns of the dark tactics this group will use as they work on both sides of the border, without sanction.

My Take

This genre of films is without a doubt one of my favorites, and with that said I tend to lean toward the side of being more tough on them than usual. After seeing excellent crime-dramas revolving around the drug trafficking culture it is easy to spot a film that does not live up to good quality standards.

“Sicario” is certainly not one of those films. The script is grim, un-glamorized, and filled with realistic feeling characters and scenarios that wove into a highly entertaining, albeit somber story about the war on drugs that goes on daily as we live our lives. This film succeeded by keeping the tone believable, without adding unnecessary action-action sequences. The feel of this one was very moody, cold, and leaves a grim feeling in your subconscious as you follow the story along.

The dark tone was an appealing addition, and fit great with the subject matter. This was also a very crisp looking film, the darker foregrounds and glowing skylines were eye-popping in a subtle way. At the same time these scenes delivered great visual appeal, they also served to capture the ominous tactical movements that are required for the mission they fought.

The cinematography was amazing, and the entire movie looked very polished without ever seeming like it was trying too hard to do so. The long aerial shots mixed the the menacing score were excellent set-ups to many scenes to build suspense on their own. Thus created an uneasy feeling which was perfect for some of the tense scenes they led in to.

The casting was also excellent, Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin were all perfectly suited for their roles. Emily Blunt was the biggest surprise of this film. I was not doubting she would not be strong in her performance but after watching I was surprised by the emotion and energy she put into the character. She conveyed a character that was a great blend of femininity and masculinity that translated into a realistic feeling character that as a viewer you can connect with, and relate to making you actually care about what she will do in the situation she blindly walked into.

This script is filled with vague and flat-out unsavory characters and with her being clearly the righteous one to an extent, she was able to pull it off in a believable way to make her presence among the rest of them feel realistic, when she could have easily came off as forced out of place. The character Blunt played knew she was in a situation that was not right, and different from many of her beliefs, but it never resulted in forced actions that lean towards implausible for the sake of Hollywood story-telling.

Benicio Del Toro was a total bad-ass in this film and never in a pump-your-fists style. He gave this film a character that was silently intimidating, always thinking, and highly skilled. The screenplay gave him a perfect amount of depth and just enough lack of information to keep you thinking about who this man was. The lack of knowledge about him what what made his scenes that much more suspenseful due to the unpredictability it created. Del Toro is one of my favorite actors and he embraced this role and really made it come to life onscreen and it was awesome to watch.

The role of Matt Graver played by Josh Brolin was also a very interesting character. He felt every bit the part of a man with unending determination to get his mission accomplished at any cost. The flip-flops and gum chewing were odd mannerisms that added a great contrast to his clear intelligence and resourcefulness. It was enjoyable to see how these insignificant traits actually spilled into his maverick style of operation in the field. His character was always posturing and in much of his dialogue you could feel that the most important information was between the lines, something Brolin performed very convincingly.

Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score was great, it was menacing and captured a strong feeling of dread, not to mention complementing Roger Deakins cinematography with perfection. The action came in doses, being littered along the story-line, and the short visceral segments were realistically violent and captured elegantly on camera without over-loading the scenes with unnecessary techniques or short edited takes that often hinder the viewing. It was not over stylized and it made the violence feel as raw and gritty as the scripts theme.

Overall “Sicario” was a very good crime-drama with great cast performances. There was a clear determination in the message and tone this film wanted to convey and it never wavered or veered for the sake of the viewers feelings. You will not be uplifted by this film, nor will you have a true character you can root for throughout. What you will take from this one is peek inside the dangerous and dirty world of the drug-trafficking trade and the depths individuals have to sink to find a common ground with the enemy. The re-watch value of this film may not be the highest but to sit back and take this story-line in for the first time with inevitability leave you entertained and somewhat enlightened.

– Starring –

Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Jon Bernthal, Daniel Kaluuya, Jeffrey Donovan, Raoul Trujillo, Maximiliano Hernández

– Directed By –

Denis Villenueve

Time: 121 min

MPAA Rating: R (For strong violence, grisly images, and language)