Sicario Review by Bob Hedlund for The Mungle Show

Synopsis: An upandcoming FBI agent is recruited into an elite task force, commissioned to disrupt and reset the imbalance of the escalating drug war along the US Mexico Border.

Review: It's impossible to draw a line in shifting sands. This is a notion that plays out to deadly effect in the film SICARIO (which is the Spanish word for 'Hitman'). After uncovering a narco body stash house in an Arizona suburb, FBI Agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) catches the eye of a covert multiagency task force and is asked to kindly volunteer. Now with the final piece of his team, her new handler, the flip flop sporting Matt Graver (Josh Brolin), begins a strategic shock and awe campaign against the finances of a Mexican drug kingpin. The ultimate goal is to wreak enough havoc on the US side to force the kingpin into recalling his top man back across the border for a facetoface, allowing the team to follow the trail back to the boss. The task force's tip of the spear for the operation is the ghostlike Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), a man devoid of conscience and yet haunted by his past.

All of this information is dished out in chunks too small for Kate to handle as she is relegated to just an observer on this out of control roller coaster ride, as are we. This is perfectly illustrated by a scene in which the team crosses the border to retrieve a prisoner they need to question from a Mexican jail. As the convoy of black SUV's twist through the streets at breakneck speeds, Kate can do nothing but hope that sheís made the right decision by putting her life in the hands of the men sitting next to her that she may never fully trust.

Written by first time writer Taylor Sheridan, Sicario could have easily slipped into one distinct genre, forsaking either the complexity or power, but director Denis Villeneuve skillfully keeps the balance between political thriller, character drama and a straight action flick. With this film, Villeneuve has taken a natural but surefooted step forward from insular dramas like Prisoners and Enemy without losing himself in the chaos that larger budgets normally bring.

The breathtaking visual style of cinematographer Roger Deakins fills every frame of the film with intention and beauty. The stark and expansive images of both the land and the cities along the border carry a visual weight of just how small and insignificant the actions of one can be. That our good intentions are a drop in the bucket against the growing tide of evil.

Much like Peter Berg's The Kingdom before it, Sicario deals with the complexities of inserting ourselves into a war, the scope of which we can not fully grasp, until it's too late and we are neck deep. The difference being that this is not set in the middle east and the war is already on our doorstep. There is no turning away from it. The ultimate question: Is this war nearing an end... or just beginning.

Sicario is a dark film with deft acting and visceral action set pieces. The first ten minutes alone could have earned the R rating for strong violence, grisly images, and language so don't let the prestige of the actors blind you into thinking this is typical date night fare. But don't let it dissuade you either. The images may be at times gruesome but it's always with intention and never oversteps into gore. I give the film 5 out of 5 stacks of cash. This is a movie that needs to be seen and won't easily be forgotten.

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