Sicario is an impeccably paced and executed action thriller from Denis Villeneuve, a director who is quickly proving himself to be a national treasure. Incendies, Enemy, and Prisoners were embraced by the festivals and critics alike, but Sicario is the film that will connect Villeneuve to mainstream audiences and have them welcoming his upcoming take on Blade Runner. It doesn’t hurt that Villeneuve has linked up with one of the industry’s finest cinematographers, Roger Deakins, who is doing for the Quebecois director what he so often does for the Coen brothers: shooting violence beautifully.
Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent who joins a mysterious inter-agency task force to take down a Mexican drug cartel. Information is dispensed sparingly in what seems like a narrative device meant to string the audience along. At first it seems this would ultimately make Blunt’s uninformed character a liability to the mission, but it all makes sense by the end. Blunt gives a strong performance, but Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are the ones you can’t take your eyes off of whenever they’re on screen.
We all know Villeneuve, Deakins, Blunt, Brolin, and Del Toro can deliver the goods, the real discovery here is screenwriter Taylor Sheridan. Sheridan is an actor who has mostly been relegated to small cop roles on network procedurals, but he comes out guns blazing with his first screenplay, suggesting that writing is probably his true calling.
The subject hasn’t been handled this well since Soderbergh’s Traffic, and while awards adulation probably isn’t in Sicario‘s future, it’s better than most films already garnering Oscar buzz. See it as soon as you can, until then, I would advise against watching the spoiler-heavy trailer.