‘Sicario’ Review Roundup: Denis Villeneuve’s Drug War Thriller Earns Top Marks
Sicario, from Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve, follows a task force that has the dangerous mission of heading to the border area between the U.S. and Mexico at the height of the drug war.
Emily Blunt stars in Sicario as FBI agent Kate Mercer, who teams up with Matt (Josh Brolin) and the mysterious Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). From San Antonio, to Juarez and El Paso, the trio and their team of military personnel try to hunt down the cartel men responsible for a reprehensible mass beheading.
Villeneuve’s latest directorial effort has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. The script, the direction and the acting in Sicario have all been lauded for elevating what could have been another formulaic thriller into a gruesome meditation on humanity. Sicario has been praised for leaving its viewers scared, not just of violence, but of its reverberating emotional effects.
“Denis Villeneuve’s film turns out to be a stupendously unnerving descent into moral chaos, our presumed action hero Alice in Cartel-land.[…] What keeps Sicario from cynicism is the nature and depth of Villeneuve’s gaze, not childishly wide-eyed but capable still of feeling pain. He’s a terrific director. You know that if his heroine, Alice, gets out of Cartel-land alive, she might spend a few months in an asylum, but she’ll be back, hell-bent on seizing the foreground.” – David Edelstein, New York Magazine
“To say that “Sicario” is about the drug war along the Mexican border makes it sound like a dozen other movies: A young FBI agent with a score to settle joins up on a secret mission to undermine a drug kingpin. But in the handling of that story, in the places it goes and the ways in which it’s filmed, “Sicario” is impressive from beginning to end. It has a screenplay of freshness and audacity that’s brought to life by a director who understands its every psychological undercurrent.” – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
“Sicario” means hit man in Spanish. It’s perfect for this lean, brutal drug-war epic. Combining relentless action with the story of a woman confronting a corrupted system, it hits with the staggering energy of a visceral kick in the guts — causing a sensory recoil in every scene. […] From its shattering opening scene to its stunning conclusion, “Sicario” is a devastating sociopolitical horror show, a dramatic rockslide designed to stun even seen-it-all moviegoers. Villeneuve has earned his next assignment, filming the sequel to the classic “Blade Runner.” He could film a chewing gum commercial that would give you nightmares.” – Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“For all its chilling tension and horrific imagery, “Sicario” is also a beautiful movie. Maybe cinematographer Roger Deakins will finally win the Oscar he deserves. His work here is stunning, whether the camera is capturing dust floating around a sunny room or framing the silhouettes of agents disappearing into the horizon at dusk, as if they’re being swallowed whole by the land. […]The movie works best when it sticks with Kate, whose fear is palpable and contagious. In the grim world of “Sicario,” the life-or-death situation that she finds herself in may not be the most geopolitically shocking, but it makes for electrifying drama.” – Stephanie Merry, The Washington Post
Sicario is currently in wide release.