sicario4th Of July On Steroids
Stars: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Daniel Kaluuya, Jon Bernthal, Jeffrey Donovan, Victor Garber, Raoul Trujillo, Julio Cedillo, Hank Rogerson and Bernardo P. Saracino
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Scriptwriter: Taylor Sheridan
Composer: Johann Johannsson
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Black Label Media/Lionsgate
Rating: R for violence, themed material and disturbing images
Running Length: 124 minutes
The actors in “Sicario” didn't have to show up for their roles, because this story of drug dealers in Mexico is told by cinematographer Roger Deakins and composer Johann Joannsson. Vistas, horizons, cloud formations plus three melodic notes, E flat, D and C (“Three Blind Mice”) tell the tale. This is a masterful weave of sight and sound, similar to the first “Jaws” movie with the John Williams score. Oscar nominations, are you watching and listening?
Emily Blunt stars as Kate, considered an FBI trainee, who is as tough as nails and expressionless as a board. Her aide is Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya) and they have each other’s backs as they look for hostages in property belonging to a drug lord in Arizona. What they find is stomach-churning and from then on the rest of the film is relentless in the chase for the guilty.
Kate is recruited by an elite and nameless task force including Matt (Josh Brolin) and a south-of-the-border advisor, Alejandro (scene-stealing Benicio del Toro). She can't resist the offer and on the first trip as an observer, realizes they have crossed the border into Mexico---unauthorized---and are working their own agenda.  Who are they searching for?  Why? And all around is gunfire, deception, torture and an atmosphere of distrust and disregard. Rules are made to be broken.  The words “covert operations” takes on new meaning.
There is actually little dialogue in this film. Facial expressions and the scenery take over for words. This is welcome, rather than the explain-all-for-five-minutes type of movie.  Here, the audience has time to absorb the atmosphere of working in a desert climate where a woman has authority and her aide can tell her to take a bath and change her t-shirt every week or so. Emily Blunt as an action figure?  Yes, coming from “Edge of Tomorrow” and going to “Sicario,” she can take care of herself well. She is stoic and abides by the law, which doesn't mean much here.
Benecio del Toro, with a scruffy beard and dead-look eyes, is the questionable person. Just who is he and why is he here? The soft voice masks a killer, but why? Josh Brolin is the brash leader who could probably charm the devil. It is harder and harder for Reggie to protect Kate.
Camera work in one section, where the Americans are in a secret underground tunnel by the border and are using night-vision goggles to find their way, is downright eerie. Not only do you have to focus your eyes, but carry equipment and aim and fire a gun, too.
In most of the other parts of the movie, the camera centers on faces rather than dialogue and in the background, as they travel in black SUV‘s, are scenes of devastation in Juarez. Someone says, “Juarez is what happens when they dig in,” meaning the drug lords and their own special brand of government in which politicians are in their pocket.  There are side stories, too, one being of a Mexican police officer (Maximiliano Hernandez) and his family, as an example of “normal” life in Mexico.
Right now, I think “Sicario” will make my Top Ten List. There are still months to go before the end of the year, but “Sicario” is well-put together, and takes the audience along for the ride---literally, as the camera is inside those black SUV’s as they bump along gravel roads.  Seen from above ---one of many overhead shots--- they look like black snakes on the move. “Sicario” means “hitman.”  Do be aware of disturbing images.  

Copyright 2015 Marie Asner