Sicario Review: When Vengeance Pushes Justice Out of the Box in the War on Drugs

Emily Blunt in Sicario

Emily Blunt in Sicario

If Justice means staying within the borders of the law and being accountable for your actions even when the fight is against ruthless cartels, ‘Sicario’ would come off as a thriller founded on ‘using all means’ to achieve a result, heavily motivated by vengeance—therefore a bunch of “bad” US agents taking illegitimate hit at the bad guys from Mexico.

Emily Blunt (who plays Kate) confidently steps into the movie as a lead FBI agent, specialising in the field of kidnap-victim recovery. That sounds straight forward and less harrowing but not when she leads her men to a cartel safe house—where they were plunged into total shock by their findings, made worse by a bomb blast which killed two of her men.

This opening horrendous experience sets the film on a path, defining Emily Blunt’s direction and ushering the viewer into the sort of cartels the “good guys” are up against. But who really is a good guy becomes difficult to establish as the film rolls on.

Idealist, young but tactful-Blunt and her partner were horrified by the cartel safe-house experience and when she was offered the opportunity by those who call the shot at the Homeland Security to join the direct fight against those who were responsible for the horror, it took her less than a minute to agree.

A new mission was therefore set; find those at the peak of the drug business and pull them down—but with less intelligence as to those who make the upper cartel rank, it seemed as though it was going to be a lot of cutting through the bush to find the wanted tree. But Kate’s new boss on this mission-special agent Matt Graver (played by Josh Brolin) had a plan to help fetch out the person who sat at the well fortified upper deck of the cartels.

Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro in Sicario

Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro in Sicario

At the side of Matt Graver was a second man-Alejandro (played by Benicio Del Toro) who claimed to be a civilian consultant from Colombia—but a closer look gives him away as Matt’s boss. And when he puts his excellent combat skills on the table, then you would definitely ask “who is really this man.” Perhaps, from the CIA as Kate suspected…

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Kate who was kept in the dark couldn’t put her fingers on the objectives of the mission and even though she was damn sure the operation was outside the confines of the law—the best answers she got were deep lies.

At one point when Kate asked Alejandro what was going on, he replied; “You’re asking me how a watch works. For now, let’s just keep an eye on the time.”

Running in and out of Mexico and openly engaging in a street combat came as a jolt to Kate, but she was told the bad guys were not fought how it was done at her station-Arizona; here, you do some with a degree of brutality and seemingly, jurisdiction was less important.

Emily Blunt in Sicario

Emily Blunt in Sicario

Unknown to Kate for a long time, Matt and Alejandro had their backs cover when it came to the problem jurisdiction—the only reason why they actually brought in Kate.

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‘Sicario’ tackles an important theme; war on drugs—but the means used in fighting the war is as much of a problem as the flow of the story.

Eventually, the assembled special skilled men led by Matt and Alejandro with Kate and her partner hanging in there aided by night vision equipment battled men of the cartel after they found a lead to the boss they wanted to pull down.

What seemed like a ‘special US unit’ lawbreaking mission in Mexico soon became a sole man enterprise—motivated by vengeance.

Director Denis Villeneuve was able to pull an excellent performance from Emily Blunt; staying confident when needed and jumping into a pool of confusion when appropriate. Both Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin delivered great performances too. But you wouldn’t completely appreciate the change of focus in the storyline and the inability to establish the loyalties of the big players—surely, justice lost the battle to vengeance.

Sicario is a cartel slang for ‘Hitman’ coined on the back of Judea’s first century Sicarii zealots.

Critics’ Rating;