Sicario (2015)


Maysa Moncao’s film review (from the Toronto International Film Festival) of the law enforcement/drug cartel drama starring Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin.

To like this review or to leave your comments, scroll to the bottom.




I have learnt the meaning of Sicario (hitman) watching the incredible documentary by Sicario posterGianfranco Rosi called Il Sicario, Room 164. Rosi had the chance to interview one of the former integrants of the “Cartel de Juarez”, taking a long series of shots inside a motel room. Those walls have heard unbelievable details of the structure of crimes committed by the drug cartels in Mexico. Here this word comes again, but in a most sophisticated production led by the Canadian director Denis Villeneuve.

Idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) is invited to join an inter-agency task force to capture an infamous Mexican drug lord. Her immediate superior is a charming but rustic cop in flip-flops Matt (Josh Brolin), who seems to obey Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), the mysterious agent who has issues from the past to be cleared.

Sicario chooses to show the Mexico that every North-American seem to fear: one full of Mexicans. Or in other words, populated by violent and cruel criminals. Villeneuve also prefers to illustrate the American police as a mere obedient and quite narrow-minded force. Imagine if your superior says: “Be alert, be vigilant, be aware”. Such redundancy also labels Sicario as a not-surprising thriller.

It is quite depressing to verify once again that the Latinos in Hollywood are often seen as criminals and responsible for one the biggest problems in the USA: the narcotraffic. Indie guys are almost never the cause of the problems. Problems are caused by immigrants or foreigners. So they think they have the right to invade Mexico, in order to make justice.

The narrative opts to show the consequences of acting by the book as well as making your own rules. If you act by the book as Blunt does, you might not get where you want. And if you are not vigilant and let your own desire for pleasure be greater than your compromise with duty, then you are literally screwed. There is only one way to act: be decisively revengeful. That is Alejandro’s correct choice.

This ferocious piece of filmmaking, turning every possible action explosive, gives the film a rhythm dictated by stimulants. Cameras are quickly moving from one close-up to another, giving us no space to breathe. It is efficient for the movie, but also symptomatic of a lifestyle post-9/11. There is no time to verify evidence. The usual suspects are the obvious criminals.

In a sense Sicario is a true photo of what Americans became. No half-tones. It is black or it is white. All the pale-yellow that comes up from the photography points out that they cannot stand the deserts anymore. El Paso, Ciudad Juarez, Kabul are unwanted places. The dust blurred their clear vision of how to build a fair and free society.

At a point it is said that “to find the drug lord in Juarez would be like discovering a vaccine”, but what America cannot really see is that vaccines do not apply to virulent organisms.   

See the official trailer on Youtube.




USA, DRAMA, 2015, 115 MIN



ABOUT THE FILMMAKER: Born in Quebec, Canada, Villeneuve has had most of his features presented at TIFF. They include “Maelstrom”, “Incendies”, “Prisoners” and “Enemy”.

Maysa Moncao

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