Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt

Reel Reviews: Film escalates the war on drugs

Taylor and Howe say, "Sicario is gritty, ugly and real."

  • Oct. 9, 2015 9:00 a.m.

A young, by-the-books FBI agent, Macer (Emily Blunt), has kicked in enough drug dealers’ doors to get the attention of a Justice Department task force leader named Graver (Josh Brolin).

His team pushes Macer and the boundaries of grey justice to their limit, going as far as using a sicario (hitman), Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro), to achieve their goals, bringing down cartel kingpins on both sides of the border.

We say, “Sicario is gritty, ugly and real.”

TAYLOR: Well, real if you look at the worst possible cases. Sicario is an “into the fire” kind of morality tale.

Young, skinny Blunt, looks like a little bird that landed on the window sill of the Cat Lady’s house. By the end, she’s been nearly dismantled, bruised and defeated, yet still capable of some unknown future.

The tale, for the most part, takes place in Juarez, near the Mexican border, where two rival cartels are at war. Against this gritty, ugly world of public fear, poverty and addiction, police corruption soars, the streets are unsafe, the line between good and bad blurs. Our idealistic hero is at war with her moral certitude.

HOWE: I thought this was one of Blunt’s better performances. At the beginning, she seems a little confused as to what is going on around her, who she can and can’t trust. I was a little like that during the first half of the movie. Then things started to click into place. The storyline is strong, as well as the performances from all the lead roles. My only concern was that it seemed to take ages to really get going.

TAYLOR: I felt things dragged on, specifically the shots. I didn’t need to stare at that sunset for over a minute. I understood that they were going to use their night vision goggles when they put them on. I appreciated Macer’s frustration and exhaustion without watching her not sleep.

I love a long shot and a long movie, when it’s warranted. A little more frugal editing, perhaps a less stubborn flamboyance would have saved me from wishing they would pick up the pace. However, this is still an entertaining film and the story contains real-world issues worthy of your examination.

Performances are tight, especially by Benicio Del Toro. Benny the Bull always brings the goods.

HOWE: I agree with you that I don’t need to sit and stare at the same scene for over a minute, yet some of the shots need to be appreciated rather than just a flyby glance. They could easily have knocked 10-to-15 minutes off and it wouldn’t have harmed the movie in any way.

It has been a while since we have had a good thriller and I found Sicario didn’t disappoint.

– Howe gives Sicario 3 football matches out of 5.

– Taylor gives it 3.5 football games out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears in The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.