Sicario (2015)

So, the movie starts off by explaining that sicario means "hitman" in Mexico. Mind you, they don't say in Spanish, they say in Mexico, so I guess it's a colloquialism. I'd suggest they just call the movie "Hitman" or maybe "Mexican Hitman," but the movie isn't actually about a Mexican hitman... or even a hitman, really. It's mostly about someone who isn't even the right gender, but she also isn't a hitwoman (or hitperson).

Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent who leads raids on places in the US where drug cartels are slaughtering their victims, burying bodies, building houses, counting their money, laundering their money, or whatever they have to do. Not content to simply mop up the leavings of the war on drugs, Emily blindly accepts a proposition by a strange man that she join some special task force run by an unknown agency. This seems like it would be a bit of a stretch, but Emily sells it well enough, and we are just along for the ride anyway.

Josh Brolin runs this small group of anti-cartel government miscreants with an unlimited budget, no ground rules, no respect for borders, and seemingly no moral compass. He issues commands that are either accepted at face value, or he'll just find someone who will do as they're told. Emily's personal motivations help to constrain her and force her to obey blindly rather than asking questions.

Benicio Del Toro is a murderous thug who Emily is instinctively wary of, but he's part of the team, so she deals with his self-evident subterfuge and brutal tactics. He's one of the best and most underrated actors working today, and he plays this role very well. The character is not dissimilar from the one he played in The Way of the Gun, but he's more mysterious and much more brutal.

As time progresses, Emily questions what she's gotten herself into more and more, but she feels like she's already in quicksand and struggling will just make things worse. So, collateral damage, indistinct targets, and even torture are ideas she has to wrestle with and ultimately either accept or quit. Her clear moral code even at the beginning of the movie really makes the viewer question why she would ever have been picked for this group in the first place. That action is never truly understood even by the end of the movie. It seems like it's just Josh Brolin's whim.

Police or military? Why not both?
Like a lot of American movies of this ilk, it does not paint a particularly pleasant picture of life in Mexico. There appears to be near constant gunfire, areas of cities that the police don't go through for fear of their own lives, and there is general lawlessness so rampant that the average people simply accept it as a normal course of living. This is certainly not true for all of Mexico and probably isn't true for most of Mexico, but that's with the story is about. As a result, many people may come away with a very unpleasant view of what is probably a very pleasant country.

Acting was excellent
Story was intriguing
Cinematography was very good
Direction was great
The mood of the movie was subtle and awesome.

Bottom Line: An excellent movie about the war on drugs and the personal price it may cost.

4.0/5

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