It’s been a long time since I’ve been so invested in a story while watching a movie, but Sicario certainly ended that streak. There wasn’t a moment I couldn’t feel my heart beating in my chest. I’d say that’s quite a feat for a two-hour film.
Siciario tells the story of FBI agent Kate Macy (Emily Blunt), who, after discovering a house filled with corpses in Arizona, is roped into a shady government mission to “bring down” the Mexican Cartel. At first, Kate jumps at the chance to catch the people who committed such a terrible crime, but she soon starts to question the validity of the mission her new acquaintance Matt (Josh Brolin) is pursuing.
From the initial scene in the house to the very last moments of the film, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. There’s an immediate sense that no one in this film can be trusted, except for Kate’s FBI partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya). It was equally frustrating and intriguing to struggle alongside Kate, just trying to figure out what’s going on. Each time Matt or his partner Alejandro (Benicio del Toro) reveal a “truth” about their mission, it’s clear that they’re purposely excluding important information. In fact, they won’t even tell Kate why they’ve even recruited her; they just keep telling her to watch and stay out of the way.
If for no other reason, you have to see Sicario for Emily Blunt’s performance. I must admit I am extremely biased and I will never speak a word against her, but Emily Blunt truly steals the show. It’s great to see a woman in a kick-ass role who’s not also fighting the same cliche fights: like trying to balance her work and family life or seeking a new love. Kate’s determined to do her job well and by the book, and her only mission in the film is to find out why she’s being used in this suspicious operation. My heart broke every time Kate tried to stand up for herself and her beliefs only to be shot twice, punched in the face, nearly strangled to death, and finally held at gunpoint. I wanted so badly for her to defeat Matt and Alejandro and for her to take over the mission and set things right. Alas, we can’t always get what we want.
Which leads me to my next point….I was really much less interested in any part of the film that didn’t feature Kate. Eventually it’s revealed that Kate and frenemies have really just been tracking down the Mexican Cartel so that Alejandro can exact revenge on its leader for murdering his family. Honestly, I did not care that Alejandro had suffered such a loss. Not really. He was causing as much pain (and murder) as his enemy had, so it wasn’t such a satisfying moment when he achieves his goal. I was more curious about what Kate was up to during that whole sequence. Alejandro was neither sympathetic nor interesting enough for me to care about to watch him murder a bunch of people who probably didn’t deserve to get murdered in the first place. But I guess I get it. He’s the hitman of the title (shrug).
Sicario’s one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year, and I hope Emily Blunt gets the recognition she deserves for her performance (and collectively for all her performances) this awards season.