Film review: Sicario (15)

Undated Film Still Handout from SICARIO. Pictured: Emily Blunt. See PA Feature FILM Blunt. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Lionsgate. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Blunt. ANL-150910-162909001
Undated Film Still Handout from SICARIO. Pictured: Emily Blunt. See PA Feature FILM Blunt. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Lionsgate. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Blunt. ANL-150910-162909001

Enter my movie of the year.

This dark and broody drug cartel thriller – which is Michael Mann’s Heat crossed with Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic – joins the likes of Birdman, A Theory of Everything and The Martian among 2015’s elite.

This simply oozes class from every pore, with sensationally tense and visceral set-pieces, a compelling and taut script, superb cinematography and breathtaking central performances from the cast – particularly British starlet Emily Blunt (The Edge of Tomorrow) and Benicio Del Toro (The Usual Suspects).

With more political intrigue than most movies can handle, Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve pieces together a crime-drama that deals with a current topical hot potato – the escalating Mexico narcotics trade.

Idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer (Blunt) is drawn into this world after ‘scratching’ the surface of this on-going war when it reaches the American side of the border in Texas and Arizona. After finding dozens of dead bodies in a house she joins a government-led team that includes mysterious leader Matt Graver (an always competent Josh Brolin) and his shady associate Alejandro (Del Toro), that aims to ‘ruffle a few feathers’ across the border to let the drug barons know America isn’t going to accept these actions lightly.

But this uneasy alliance gets blown wide open after an eye-opening trip to the Mexican town of Juarez – complete with fantastic border bridge stand-off scene – and Macer soon realises she is an extremely little fish in a very big pond, as the lines between right and wrong become more blurred.

Sicario – the Spanish word for hit-man by the way – is compelling from the word go, and its slow and methodical plotting is never less than intriguing all the way through. It doesn’t go in ‘all guns blazing’ with Villeneuve managing to avoid the usual genre pit-falls by providing material that is intense and engaging in equal measures throughout – with a layer of class and finesse that makes this stand out above the rest.

Blunt continues to blossom into one of Hollywood’s best actresses, but it’s Del Toro who steals the show with a performance that should win him the Best Supporting Actor nod if there’s any justice.

If you want to witness a slice of film genius feel implored to answer the call of Juarez as soon as possible.

Rating: 5/5 Gavin Miller